Three San Francisco men were detained for hours by police at a department store last week according to KTVU FOX 2. The three friends have been cleared of any wrongdoing and have accused police of racial profiling. The men are now planning to file a lawsuit and are being represented by civil rights attorney Adante Pointer. However, police claim their response to the incident was appropriate.
The incident took place at Saks Fifth Avenue on Union Square in San Francisco. The three men said they were shopping inside the store when police showed up with their guns drawn. The men shared cell phone video of the incident with KTVU describing the experience as embarrassing, scary and hamulating.
Greg Peirson has been seen handcuffed sitting on the ground. Police claim he matches the description by a 911 caller who reported a man brandishing a gun inside the store.
Peirson says he and his friends were in the store for a half-hour or less when police approached them.
“‘Hey you three, get the f— down,’” an officer said to them, Peirson recalled. “We turned around surprised.”
Perison says he’s a regular customer at the store and employees recognize him.
“That’s a scary thing to have my life in somebody else’s hands like that, especially being innocent,” he said.
The three men say they were detained for more than two hours although no weapons were discovered.
“Very scared, down on the ground. I was listening to everything they said just like I was supposed to ’cause I didn’t want them to shoot me,” Michael Melson, Peirson’s friend said.
“It was racial profiling to me from what I see,” said Peirson. A San Francisco police spokesman says the officers “acted according to policy when responding to a report of a person brandishing a firearm.”
The three men, however, contend police would have responded differently if they’ve been Black.
“They jumped to the conclusion that it’s three Black men upstairs. They have a gun,” says Peirson.
Police said a man called 911 claiming that there was an armed man in the store. Police say he acted aggressively when officers were talking to the three friends.
Peirson says the police treated him and his friends more aggressively than the man who called the police on them.
“I would like to see the cops be a little more lenient. Take a little more time. Give us a little bit benefit of the doubt sometimes,” Peirson said.