A black man who says he was only trying to return a purchase in a Trussville, Ala., Hobby Lobby told WBRC he was "profiled" when police suddenly arrived, told him the store was threatening him with trespassing charges, then demanded his identification.
Brian Spurlock's girlfriend Ashley Maddox first posted about the incident to Facebook Tuesday afternoon.
"My boyfriend went into Hobby Lobby in Trussville, AL to return an item that I didn’t want, and he had the receipt to the items. The items was new the box was just opened," she wrote in the post.
"As he was returning the item the Manager at Hobby Lobby called the police on him while having him wait in the store as if they where calling the corporate office about the item. Remind you all he was not be rudely or anything just waiting for the item to be returned."
Maddox described how an officer allegedly told Spurlock he was about to be removed for trespassing and asked to see his identification. The officer left, ran the ID, then came back and spoke to the manager, Maddox wrote.
"The manager comes over the my boyfriend and returns the item and gives him his cash back and says the apologies for what just happened. Our question is why did this happened in the first place?" she wrote.
Spurlock told WVTM he went to the Hobby Lobby, receipt in hand, to return several items. But the store told him he could not return his most expensive purchase because it had been opened.
"I said, 'Is there somebody else I can talk to that can assist me with this?' She said 'yeah wait,' " Spurlock told ABC 33/40. That's when a manager asked him to wait while they called the corporate office, he told the station. An officer arrived shortly after.
"He said where is your ID. I say what do you need my ID for. He said what's about to happen is you are about to be trespassed from the store. He got my ID and he walked off and he when he ran my name and he came back I checked out. I was clear. He comes back with my ID and he never explains to me why he needed my ID," Spurlock told WBRC.
Spurlock received his refund and an apology, part of which was captured in video shared by Maddox. In the video, an employee can be heard saying she was just "following directions from our upper management."
The video has been viewed more than 590,000 times and Maddox's post has been shared more than 10,000 times.
In a statement to the Trussville Tribune and other media, Trussville Police said they were called to the Hobby Lobby by management "concerning someone in their store that they believed had written bad checks and made fraudulent returns to their store."
An officer arrived and ran Spurlock's identification card, which came up as expired. The officer then looked at a photo of the person the store said had written bad checks in the past and found that it "looked somewhat like the person in the store but it did not appear to be him," according to the Trussville Tribune.
The officer then warned Spurlock not to drive out of the parking lot with an expired I.D., after which Spurlock was picked up by someone else, the paper reported.
"They profiled me. They did not want me in their store and that's all it was about,” Spurlock told WBRC. "Everything caught me by surprise and it really hurt me. It confused me. I didn't know what would have happened if I told the police officer that I'm not giving you my ID because I didn't do anything. Then he would have tried to apprehend me and then it could have been worse."
Hobby Lobby did not respond to requests for comment from ABC 33/40 or WVTM or The Root and has not released a statement.