A teenager is suing Barneys and the NYPD after being accosted by undercover cops for buying a $350 belt.
The Daily News' cover story today (four reporters!) concerns Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old engineering student from Queens who had the urge to buy a $350 Ferragamo belt as soon as he got his paycheck from his work-study gig at the New York City College of Technology last spring. “I knew exactly what I wanted,” he told the paper, adding that Juelz Santana has the same belt (Gothamist photographer Jessica Lehrman shot Kendrick Lamar's shopping spree at Barneys in January for Rolling Stone).
“It was a quick trip. I gave them my debit card, I signed my name. I showed my state ID," Christian said, and he left the store with his belt. A block from the flagship Madison Avenue store he was stopped by plainclothes detectives. "They said my card wasn't real, it was fake. They said someone at Barneys called to report it."
Christian said he was handcuffed and taken to the 19th Precinct. “The detectives were asking me, ‘How could you afford a belt like this? Where did you get this money from?’” He says two hours later, police released him and apologized.
NYPD spokeswoman Kim Royster disputed Christian's account: “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."
According to the NYPD, 53 complains of credit card fraud at Barneys this year resulted in 47 arrests, but it's not clear how many of those arrests resulted in charges. Christian is suing for unspecified damages.
“I was nervous the whole time, but not really scared because I knew I had done nothing wrong,” Christian said, adding that he returned the belt a few days later for a refund. "I’m not shopping there again. It’s cruel. It’s racist.”