Trayon Christian by all accounts could be considered a fashion forward teenager attempting to emulate the pricey clothing worn by some of his favorite rappers. Christian is a 19-year-old engineering student at New York City College of Technology and a work study student. All he wanted to do was buy himself a new $349 Ferragamo belt from Barneys.
On April 29th, his paycheck was direct deposited into his Chase bank account, so he made his way to Barneys.
“I knew exactly what I wanted,” Christian said. He’d seen the belt on a lot of his favorite celebrities, including rapper Juelz Santana.
“It was a quick trip. I gave them my debit card, I signed my name,” he said.
According to his lawsuit, the clerk asked Christian to show his ID, which he did.
“I showed my state ID,” he told The New York Daily News.
After his purchase he left the store. Less than a block away from the store, he was apprehended by undercover cops. “They said my card wasn’t real, it was fake. They said someone at Barneys called to report it,” said Christian. Christian was also asked where did he work and if he went to school.
“I showed them my school ID and my driver’s license,” said Christian, who was 18 when the incident allegedly occurred.
“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 said. According to his lawsuit, he was then handcuffed and taken to the local precinct where he waited for 2 hours. A police spokesperson says Christian wasn’t locked up for 2 hours but for about 42 minutes.
“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.
“It’s because he’s an African-American,” she said. “It’s wrong. They shouldn’t have done this.”
Being publicly questioned, searched and handcuffed and then detained in a police precinct cell caused Christian “great physical and mental distress and humiliation,” the lawsuit said. “His reputation and character were injured and he was embarrassed,” the court papers said.
The incident was due to the “negligence, careless[ness] and recklessness of Barneys” and the undercover detectives, the lawsuit alleges.
Christian is suing the NYPD and Barneys for unspecified damages.