Joel Stallworth and TaMiya Dickerson are accusing a white Nike store manager of racial profiling after she wrongfully accused them of stealing from the store and called the police.
Stallworth and Dickerson purchased a small basketball for their toddler son, Sammy, after he got all excited playing with it inside the store. His parents had the receipt to prove that they had bought the ball.
The incident happened on July 5 at the Santa Monica Place shopping mall in southern California. After the couple talked to the police and reaffirmed that they had not stolen the ball, they decided to return the ball and get a refund rather than patronize the store.
The confrontation with the store manager and the police was recorded and Dickerson shared the video to Facebook. The family has hired an attorney and Nike has since issued an apology.
Heavy.com has reached out to Stallworth via email for additional comment. We will update this post once we hear back.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Joel Stallworth & TaMiya Dickerson Say the Manager Followed Them Out of the Store & Accused Them of Stealing the Basketball
Joel Stallworth and TaMiya Dickerson explained on social media that they headed to the Santa Monica Place shopping mall on July 5 with friends. They wanted to take their minds off the earthquakes that rocked the region over the July 4th holiday.
They went inside the Nike store without intending on purchasing anything. But they changed their minds after their 19-month-old son, Sammy, picked up a small basketball. In one of the videos, you can see how happy Sammy was with his toy. Stallworth said he was excited to buy his son his first basketball.
But after purchasing the ball and leaving the store, the manager, a white woman, followed them out. She accused them of stealing the basketball and had called the police.
People started recording the incident after police officers had arrived. At one point, Stallworth tossed the ball onto the ground in frustration. He gave the receipt to the police officer, who looked it over and then returned the ball to the family. Stallworth and Dickerson say the store manager did not apologize.
They decided to return the ball and get a refund. Dickerson shared additional video to Facebook of the family standing at the register getting their money back.
2. Stallworth Said the Manager Ruined a Special Moment Between Him & His Baby Son
Joel Stallworth wrote on Facebook that the moment of buying his son his first basketball was supposed to be a special memory, but that it was ruined by the false accusation. He wrote after the incident, “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.”
In an interview with KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, Stallworth called the situation “humiliating.” He said the store manager had “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.'” Stallworth added that he never would have accused someone of stealing without evidence.
He and Dickerson wrote on Facebook, “This seems to be the American way for people like us. This has happened, far too many times to me personally. My son, I would hope, will never have to experience this again.”
3. Joel Stallworth is a Business Owner & Former Member of the USA Track & Field Team
Stallworth previously represented the United States as an athlete. He competed for Team USA in Track & Field from 2008 through 2012, in both indoor and outdoor events.
Prior to becoming a professional athlete, Stallworth graduated from California State University Stanislaus in 2007. According to Athletic.net, Stallworth’s personal record as a college athlete in the 400-meter race (one lap around the track) was 46.51 seconds.
On his Facebook page, Stallworth also shared that he first met wife TaMiya Dickerson in 2003.
4. Nike Has Issued an Apology & Promised to Investigate
Nike’s corporate headquarters has since issued an apology to Joel Stallworth and TaMiya Dickerson for the incident at the Santa Monica store.
KeJuan Wilkins, Nike’s Vice President of North America Communications, released a statement vowing to investigate what had happened. CBS Los Angeles published the statement in full. It read: “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 deliver on our expectations for consumer experiences.”
5. Stallworth & Dickerson Have Hired an Attorney
Joel Stallworth and TaMiya Dickerson have hired Los Angeles trial attorney Stephen King. He told KTLA-TV that the goal is to discover whether the incident at the Santa Monica shopping mall was an “isolated act, or is this something that is more pervasive within the society of the employees that they hire.”
It’s unclear if the family plans to file a lawsuit against Nike. In addition to emailing Stallworth, Heavy has also reached out to King’s office for clarification.