Black family says they were racially profiled at Nike store, accused of stealing $12 basketball

"This is ridiculous," the mother says in a video of the incident on Facebook. "We purchased this basketball in the store."

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Minyvonne Burke

A black family in California said they were racially profiled at a Nike store in Santa Monica when a white manager accused them of stealing a $12 basketball they had bought and then flagged down police officers.

The incident happened on July 5 as Joel Stallworth and TaMiya Dickerson were at the Santa Monica Place shopping mall with their 18-month-old son, Sammy, according to a press release from the family's lawyer and a video of the incident that Dickerson posted on Facebook.

The couple said they were not planning on buying anything but changed their mind and purchased a Nike Swoosh Mini basketball after their son picked it up and started to carry it around.

Stallworth and Dickerson said that as they were leaving the manager of the store followed them outside, accused them of stealing the basketball and demanded they give it back. Stallworth explained that they bought the ball for their son and continued to walk down the street with his family.

Joel Stallworth and TaMiya Dickerson's son Sammy holds a basketball they purchased at Santa Monica Place.Courtesy of Joel Stallworth

The Morning Rundown

Get a head start on the morning's top stories.

The manager continued to follow them and flagged down Santa Monica police officers for help.

Video of the incident on Dickerson's Facebook page shows the parents explaining to the manager and at least three Santa Monica police officers that they bought the basketball and have the receipt.

"This is ridiculous," Dickerson says in the video. "We purchased this basketball in the store."

At one point, Stallworth tosses the basketball onto the ground in frustration and the store manager picks it up.

After showing the receipt to an officer, Stallworth and Dickerson are given the basketball back. Following the incident, the couple took the ball back to the store for a refund.

Santa Monica police did not immediately return NBC News' request for comment.

Nike said in a statement that it had reached out to the couple to "express our deepest apologies."

“We are taking the recent situation at our Santa Monica store very seriously, and we are currently investigating the facts," the company said. "We will continue to work with our teams to ensure we deliver on our expectations for consumer experiences.”

Stallworth and Dickerson said in the press release that the incident was humiliating.

"She had zero evidence that I stole anything. She couldn't have evidence because I bought it. She discriminated against me," Stallworth told KTLA station in Los Angeles. "She planted an evil seed in the officer, so as soon as the officer came up to me, he said, 'Sir, give me the stolen ball.'"