Black college student says he was detained for buying $349 belt at Barneys


A Barneys store in New York City.

A Queens engineering student has filed a lawsuit against a Barneys department store in New York City because, he alleges, clerks called the cops when he purchased an expensive belt.

Nineteen-year-old Trayon Christian, who is black, bought a $349 Ferragamo belt on April 29 after saving up for weeks, he told the New York Daily News. He made the purchase on his debit card and showed ID on request, he said — but, he claims, shortly after leaving the store he was stopped by undercover police and questioned as to how he could afford such a pricy item.

Detectives told him that a Barneys employee had called to report the purchase, Christian told the News. He says he was handcuffed and taken to the stationhouse, where he was held for two hours before being released with the belt, his card, and an apology.

Now, he's filing a lawsuit against the store and the city of New York, alleging racial discrimination. 

"Why me? I guess because I'm a young black man, and you know, people do a credit card scam so they probably thought that I was one of them," said Christian to NBC 4 New York. "They probably think that black people don't have money like that."

According to the lawsuit filed on Monday at the Manhattan State Supreme Court, Christian alleges that although he presented both the debit card and the receipt when he was stopped by police, he was told "that he could not afford to make such an expensive purchase," according to the Associated Press. 

Christian said he has returned the belt in disgust, and intends to sue for as yet unspecified damages due to "great physical and mental distress and humiliation," according to NBC 4 New York. 

Barneys has denied any involvement in the detention of a customer, saying "that after carefully reviewing the incident of last April, it is clear that no employee of Barneys New York was involved in the pursuit of any action with the individual other than the sale," according to the AP.