A former Team USA athlete says his family was racially profiled and accused of stealing a $13 basketball he had just purchased for his 19-month-old son at a Nike store in Santa Monica.
Joel Stallworth and TaMiya Dickerson were with their son when they said a purchase at a Nike store on the Third Street Promenade turned into an incident involving police July 5.
Stallworth, founder of the Los Angeles boutique The Small Shop, also competed on Team USA’s 4×400 relay at the 12th annual IAAF World Indoor Championships in Spain in 2008, he said in online profiles.
Cellphone video Dickerson posted on Facebook shows Stallworth answering police questions in the recent incident after he said a white Nike store manager Wendy Magee called the police on his family after 9 p.m.
Dickerson added on Facebook that Magee didn’t just involve police, she also followed the couple from the Nike store to an AMC theater about 430 feet from the store.
Stallworth can be seen in the video holding a receipt for the ball the manager asked about.
“We just told you we bought it. What do you need the receipt for?” Dickerson asked in the video.
The manager can be heard responding, “Because we didn’t have our basketball.”
At that point, Stallworth bounced the basketball past her, and Dickerson asked, “What are you talking about?”
The manager can be seen walking to get the ball, and Dickerson said, “So now you come refund his money and I want an apology. This is f—— ridiculous, and it’s profiling.”
At that point, the video showed three officers on the scene as Stallworth said repeatedly that he paid for the ball.
“We felt intimidated and threatened physically and emotionally,” Dickerson said on Facebook.
It’s unclear if the manager has responded to the couple, but Nike’s VP of North America Communications KeJuan Wilkins sent Atlanta Black Star this statement:
“We are taking the recent situation at our Santa Monica store very seriously, and we are currently investigating the facts. We have reached out to the family to express our deepest apologies, and we will continue to work with our teams to ensure we deliver on our expectations for consumer experiences.”
Stallworth, who eventually showed his receipt to police and returned the ball, had this to say in the Facebook post on Dickerson’s page:
“Imagine being a 19 month old black baby boy. Your father purchased you your first basketball at 9:01 pm on a Friday night. A moment that creates a bond you will always be connected to. But in an instance someone steals your ball; because they accuse your father of shop lifting. Welcome to America Sammy. I hope you don’t have to get used to this.”
The family has hired an attorney, according to ABC affiliate KABC.