An actor on HBO's "Treme" says he was stopped buying sunglasses because of his race at Macy's department store, and he has filed a lawsuit against the company.
The accusation comes after Barneys New York said it was hiring a civil rights expert to review its procedures following complaints from two black customers who said they were harassed by police after making purchases.
A lawsuit filed by Robert Brown in state Supreme Court in Manhattan Friday alleges the actor was stopped by police at the 34th Street location after employees there contacted authorities about possible credit card fraud. He says he was held at the store, handcuffed and searched before being released.
Brown says he was targeted because he's black.
Macy's said in a statement it's investigating the claim. The NYPD is also named in the suit. The city's Law Department had no immediate comment.
Barneys New York CEO Mark Lee apologized in a statement Thursday about the claims against its Manhattan store, adding that "no customer should have the unacceptable experience" of being accosted by police after making a purchase at the store.
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Lee said the store has hired Michael Yaki, who serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, to lead a review of fairness and equality practices at the high-end department store. He will have unrestricted access to all aspects of store operations, according to Lee.
Trayon Christian, 19, of Queens, said he was handcuffed and locked in a cell after buying a $350 Ferragamo belt last April. He says he was accosted by undercover NYPD officers after leaving the store, who questioned how he could afford such a pricey accessory.
He has filed a lawsuit against the city and Barneys, alleging he was held at a precinct in a cell for more than two hours before being released with no charges.
Meanwhile, another shopper who heard about Christian's lawsuit came forward Wednesday to say she had a similar experience after purchasing a $2,500 Celine handbag at the store in February.
Kayla Phillips, 21, of Brooklyn,said she was surrounded by police after leaving the store. They demanded to know why she used a debit card without a name on it.
Phillips explained that it was a temporary card, and after showing police identification and a new debit card that had arrived in the mail that morning, they let her go.
Copyright AP - Associated Press