WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn (WABC) -- It was a mortifying experience for a mother and daughter wrongly accused of shoplifting in Brooklyn. They believe they were targeted because of the color of their skin, but the owners of Amarcord in Williamsburg are calling this all a misunderstanding they would like to apologize for.
Nancy Bedard spent last Friday shopping with her teenage daughter, hoping to make lasting memories, but what unfolded inside the vintage shop was one of the most humiliating experiences of their lives.
"The clerk followed me out the store and she asked me to come back in - I said 'no, how could I help you?' and she said that 'you stole from us' and I said 'no, I haven't stolen anything from you,'" Bedard says.
After trying on several outfits, Bedard says a white Amarcord employee accused the pair of shoplifting. Bedard denied the claim and even counted all the items they had tried on before exiting the store, but another employee chased her down the street.
"She kept following us and she tried to touch me, and I told her not to touch me - I told her she was harassing me. I then took my phone out and tried to take her picture, and she tried to grab the phone, but I did take a photo of her and I said 'please leave me alone!" Bedard added.
A practicing attorney, Bedard believes she was racially profiled and says the employee unleashed a series of verbal attacks while following her and her daughter down Bedford Ave. Police were called a short time later and Bedard says what happened next added insult to injury.
"They didn't ask us any questions, then another set of police officers came and started bothering us - they were pulling on our hands, they had handcuffed my daughter and I together," Bedard said.
"The fact that it was a white woman who made the accusation and my wife and daughter are both black, I don't think the situation would have gone down the way it did if it had been a white person," said Bedard's husband, Philip Sturges.
After several hours, Bedard say her arrest was voided, but the damage had already been done. The owners of Amarcord have since issued a public statement describing the incident as a misunderstanding which they would like to personally apologize for.
The statement reads in part , "This is not the way Amarcord does business, and this does not reflect the ethos of our company as a whole or us as people."
Bedard says actions speak much louder than words.
"I am lucky that nothing worse happened to me and my daughter, but the reality is when people make these calls for no basis and no reason, they are constantly putting people at risk of serious danger," Bedard adds.
The NYPD also released a statement in response to how officers handled this incident saying in part, "Assistant Chief Maddrey has been briefed on this incident. He immediately launched an internal investigation by the borough's investigations unit. He also directed that the patrol supervisor, a lieutenant, be transferred until an investigation is complete."