Three men who say they had come to shop Wednesday, as they often do, at the Saks Fifth Avenue store on Post Street in Union Square, say they were the victims of racial profiling and were detained for hours by San Francisco police after doing nothing wrong.
The three men in their 20s, who are Black, had driven into the city from Oakland on Wednesday. They tell KTVU that they were at Saks for about a half hour or less when police arrived and, with guns drawn, told them all to get on the ground.
One of the men, Greg Peirson, tells KTVU that the police came up to them and yelled, "Hey you three, get the fuck down."
"We turned around surprised," Peirson says. "That's a scary thing to have my life in somebody else's hands like that, especially being innocent."
Peirson said that police clearly had not spoken to any employees at the store, because they would likely have recognized him as a regular shopper.
According to police, they were responding to a report from a caller that someone matching Peirson's description was in the store brandishing a gun.
A spokesperson for the department tells KTVU that the officers "acted according to policy when responding to a report of a person brandishing a firearm."
Now that Peirson and his friends have retained an attorney for a civil rights case, Adante Pointer, the SFPD says the men can file a complaint with the Department of Police Accountability, and they believe body camera footage will show they did nothing wrong.
"They jumped to the conclusion that it's three Black men upstairs. They have a gun," Peirson said, adding, "It was racial profiling to me from what I see."
The men were not found to be carrying any weapons and were not cited for any crime. The man who called the cops, however, was cited for his aggressive behavior on the sidelines while police were questioning Peirson and his friends. The man, who was white, was cited for obstructing a police investigation, however Peirson says police treated the man less aggressively than they treated him and his two friends.