Exclusive: Young men question detention at Long Island gas station

COMMACK, Long Island (WABC) -- Eyewitness News met exclusively Wednesday with three young men who allege they were racially profiled and banned from a gas station on Long Island.

Marquell Sterling, Kyle Angus and Felix Carrion, all of Amityville, said they went to the Speedway Gas Station in Commack on Jericho Turnpike on Jan. 29 to get some snacks. They arrived at 10:19 p.m. Within six minutes, at 10:25 p.m., an officer arrived at the gas station.

"The officer asks what is going on?" Carrion recounted exclusively to Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne. "I said, what do you mean what's going on?"

One of the men took out his cellphone and began recording the interaction with the officer.

In the video, the officer tells the young men that the store owner has requested they not be allowed in the store anymore.

"I'm going to fill out a trespass affidavit, so if you ever come back in here, you'll get arrested," the officer told the young men.

They asked the officer why they are being banned from the store.

The officer responded, "It's not up to me. She doesn't want you in this store."

The men continue to ask what they did wrong and why they are being asked to leave the premises.

"Because you're under the influence of marijuana," the officer says.

The young men told Eyewitness News they were not high.

One of the men asked the officer, "So I'm getting banned from the store for putting money in their pocket?"

"It's a private business. She can say whatever she wants. If she's uncomfortable with people under the influence," the officer responded.

In total, four officers responded to the gas station.

The young men said officers locked the doors to the building and wouldn't let them leave for two hours.

"We felt there was no crime committed and we felt there was no reason for us to be detained or any investigation to be occurring," Sterling said.

The young men said officers insisted the men tell them their names and provide identification.

"At this point, we just want to know what did we do wrong for us to give you our ID?" Angus said.

Eventually the young men gave the officers their names and police let them go, although police would not allow them to leave in their car. They had to get an Uber.

The young men weren't charged and are now considering filing a federal civil rights discrimination lawsuit against the gas station and the Suffolk County Police Department.

"They were clearly racially profiled," said their attorney William Ferro. "They were there for a lawful purpose."

A spokesperson for Speedway wouldn't comment on the incident to Eyewitness News.

Tiffany Castillo, a friend of the young men, called Speedway's administrative office the day after the incident to file a complaint.

"Even corporate was baffled, baffled on why this happened," she said.

A police report obtained exclusively by Eyewitness News states the caller called police because she believed the young men were on drugs and she was "fearful that she was about to be robbed."

In the report, the caller told police the young men were in the store for a long period of time without purchasing anything.

The men said they bought chips.

The report states the caller was "so fearful and stressed that she was crying, and appeared to be (sic) a burst blood vessel in her left eye which she did not have prior to the incident."

The officer offered to have medical crews respond to help the caller, but the caller refused because there was no one to close the store.

The report continues, "She no longer wanted the men in the store, and should they return she wants them to be arrested for trespassing."

Suffolk Police said they won't comment on pending litigation.

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