Nineteen year old, Trayon Christian, was recently arrested following a pricey shopping spree at Barneys in New York City.
Christian told the NY Daily News he “filed a lawsuit after he was targeted by staffers at Barneys’ Madison Ave. flagship store and detained by police because they didn’t believe a young black man could possibly afford to buy such an expensive belt.”
The teen, a student at the New York City College of Technology student, lives with his mom in Corona, Queens.
Christian explained he used his paycheck, obtained from his work-study job, and went straight to Barneys on the afternoon of April 29 to purchase a pricey Salvatore Ferragamo belt ($349).
“I knew exactly what I wanted,” Christian said. “It was a quick trip. I gave them my debit card, I signed my name,” he added.
According to his lawsuit, the clerk asked Christian to show his ID, which he did.
“I showed my state ID,” he told The News.
Christian then said he was detained and then arrested by two undercover cops who told him the card had to be fraudulent because he couldn’t have afforded the Ferragamo belt.
“They said my card wasn’t real, it was fake. They said someone at Barneys called to report it,” said Christian.
When asked to show identification Christian said, “I showed them my school ID and my driver’s license.”
“I kept thinking, ‘Why is this happening to me?’” he said.
“The detectives were asking me, ‘How could you afford a belt like this? Where did you get this money from?’” he continued.
After being handcuffed he was taken to the 19th Precinct stationhouse where he had been detained for two hours.
He was then released with his debit card, his belt and an apology from the police, Christian stated.
“Mr. Christian was held in police custody for approximately 42 minutes and as soon as we determined that the card was authentic, he was immediately released,” said Inspector Kim Royster.
Although Christian was never charged he said he returned the belt back to the store but became angry over the entire ordeal.
“I was nervous the whole time, but not really scared because I knew I had done nothing wrong. I brought the belt back to Barneys a few days later and returned it. I got my money back, I’m not shopping there again,” he said. “It’s cruel. It’s racist.”
In response to the lawsuit, he’s since filed, the city’s Law Department spokesperson, Elizabeth Thomas said the department hadn’t seen the court papers yet.
“We are awaiting a formal copy of the lawsuit and will review the claims upon receipt,” added Thomas.
According to Christian’s lawyer, “He’s never been arrested. His only crime was being a young black guy buying a $300 belt,” he stated.
Christian’s mother, Selena Christian, also expressed her concern and stated that she was outraged at the store’s treatment of her son.
“Barneys said his card was stolen, they said he shouldn’t have that much money in his account,” said the 40-year-old school bus driver. “I am shocked. He’s a good kid.”
“It’s because he’s an African-American,” she said. “It’s wrong. They shouldn’t have done this.”
In his lawsuit, Christian said that being publicly questioned, searched and handcuffed and then detained by police caused “great physical and mental distress and humiliation.”
He adds, “His reputation and character were injured and he was embarrassed.”
He is currently suing the NYPD and Barneys for unspecified damages.
(Photo/Source: NY Daily News)