NEW YORK — A Corona engineering student says he was handcuffed on a busy Manhattan street and accused of stealing a $350 designer belt at Barneys because he's black — even though he paid for the high-end item, according to a new lawsuit.
Trayon Christian, now 20, said he walked into the famed Madison Avenue department store in April 2013 and purchased a Salvatore Ferragamo belt using his debit card, according to court documents filed in Manhattan Supreme Court earlier this month.
The cashier asked to see his license and it matched with his debit card, says the suit, against the city and the store.
After leaving the store, police officers stopped him and handcuffed him, telling him his card was fake and that he "could not afford to make such an expensive purchase," according to the suit.
Christian said he was held at the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side, and was released after two hours after police called his debit card company and confirmed he was the owner of the card.
His lawyer said the officers offered an apology, but Christian had already endured ridicule and stress.
"A young man walked into Barneys with the money that he saved to buy a belt," Christian's lawyer, Michael Palillo told DNAinfo New York.
"He gave his debit card with his name. The card went through and his name is on the receipt."
Christian, an engineering student at City Tech, works part-time at his school and saved up to buy the belt after seeing it on one of his favorite rappers, Juelz Santana, according to Palillo.
"Barneys is of the opinion that he doesn't fit the profile of someone who should be shopping at Barneys," Palillo said. "This is an injustice."
"We are awaiting a formal copy of the lawsuit and will review the claims upon receipt," a spokeswoman for the city's law department said.
A spokeswoman for Barneys New York said "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."
"Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination and we stand by our long history in support of all human rights," the rep added.