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HBO actor settles with Macy's, NYC in "shop-and-frisk" suit

By Curtis Skinner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actor Rob Brown of HBO's "Treme" has settled a federal discrimination lawsuit against Macy's Inc and the city of New York, the retailer said on Thursday, resolving part of a "shop-and-frisk" controversy over racial profiling in the city.

U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield dismissed the case on Wednesday, citing a settlement in principle between the parties, court records showed.

Neither Macy's nor the city would provide further information on Thursday as details had not been finalized.

Brown sued the department store and the city in November, saying that after purchasing a $1,300 gold Movado watch for his mother as a graduation present last June, he was detained and handcuffed by three men he believed to be police officers.

The controversy surrounding his arrest and those of other black shoppers with similar complaints last year sparked debate about racial stereotyping and prejudice.

The practice was coined "shop and frisk" in a twist on the controversial policing practice of "stop and frisk."

Macy's said it would also be settling other lawsuits alleging racial profiling. At a hearing on Monday in Brown’s case, a lawyer for the company said there were two cases pending in state court and a third in federal court.

"Our company strictly prohibits discrimination of any kind and has zero tolerance for racial profiling," Macy's said in a statement.

Brown alleged in his complaint that the men, who he believed were working at the request of Macy's staff, accused him of committing credit card fraud and paraded him through the store before placing him in a detainment cell where they mocked him for roughly an hour.

When they learned he was a well-known actor, they changed their tune and offered to provide him a police escort to his mother's college graduation, the complaint said.

The state attorney general launched an investigation into security practices at Macy's and Barneys, another retailer where black shoppers lodged similar complaints.

Brown sued for false imprisonment, assault and battery, negligent hiring and civil rights violations and was seeking unspecified money damages.

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