Black family say they were racially profiled at Nike store, accused of stealing $12 basketball
A black family in California said they were racially profiled at a Nike store in Santa Monica when a white official accused them of stealing a $12 basketball they had bought and then police reported.
The incident happened on July 5 while Joel Stallworth and TaMiya Dickerson were at the Santa Monica Place mall with their 18-month-old son, Sammy, according to a press release from the family’s attorney and video from incident posted by Dickerson on Facebook.
The couple said they had no intention of buying anything, but changed their minds and bought a Nike Swoosh Mini basketball after their son picked it up and started to transport it.
Stallworth and Dickerson said that as they were leaving, the store manager followed them outside, accused them of stealing the basketball, and demanded they return it. Stallworth explained that they bought the ball for their son and continued to walk down the street with his family.
The director continued to follow them and called the Santa Monica police for help.
Video of the incident on Dickerson’s Facebook page shows the parents explaining to the principal and at least three Santa Monica police officers that they purchased the basketball and received it.
“It’s ridiculous,” Dickerson says in the video. “We bought this basketball in the store.”
At one point, Stallworth throws the basketball to the floor in frustration, and the store manager picks it up.
After showing the receipt to an officer, Stallworth and Dickerson retrieve the basketball. Following the incident, the couple took the ball back to the store for a refund.
Santa Monica police did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
Nike said in a statement that it had contacted the couple to “express our sincere apologies.”
“We take the recent situation at our Santa Monica store very seriously and are currently investigating the facts,” the company said. “We will continue to work with our teams to ensure we meet our customer experience expectations.”
Stallworth and Dickerson said in the press release that the incident was humiliating.
“She had no proof that I stole anything. She couldn’t have any proof because I bought it. She discriminated against me,” Stallworth told Los Angeles station KTLA. “She planted an evil seed in the officer, so as soon as the officer approached me he said, ‘Sir, give me the stolen bullet. “”