A black couple who had just bought their son his first basketball said they were accused of stealing the ball and questioned by Santa Monica police outside a Nike store earlier this month.
Joel Stallworth, the father, told Los Angeles TV station KTLA that a store manager called the police and accused him of swiping the basketball without paying.
“She took this moment from my son and I,” Stallworth said.
TaMiya Dickerson posted a video of the incident on Facebook, which showed the officer inspecting a receipt as the family protested. Dickerson said: “This is what happens to my family while buying my son a ball.” She added in another post: “Little did I know after purchasing this orange toddler size basketball that I would be followed and profiled as I leave the store.”
Dickerson said in a post that Nike was one of her favorite brands. Stephen King, an attorney for the family, told KTLA that the family is hoping Nike will see if the incident was isolated or a reflection of a culture among employees at its stores.
“We are taking the recent situation at our Santa Monica store very seriously, and we are currently investigating the facts,” Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins said in an emailed statement. “We have reached out to the family to express our deepest apologies.”
Stallworth said the family did not receive an apology immediately after the incident.
“She just accused me,” Stallworth told KTLA. “She had zero evidence that I stole anything. She couldn’t have evidence because I bought it.”
The Santa Monica Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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