Whitaker gets stopped and frisked, leaving a Morningside Heights deli, by an employee Saturday after being accused of shoplifting, according to published reports. Employees who worked at the store denied the incident happened.
Whitaker, who is in New York filming a movie, was leaving the Milano Market in Morningside Heights when a worker said he saw him steal an item from the store, TMZ first reported.
Now Whitaker is fuming about the event, despite possibly getting away with stealing whatever it was he may have stolen. It could be that the deli simply has a policy about frisking black men. Then again, celebrities can get away with stealing stuff… even celebrities like Forest Whitaker.
The worker stopped Whitaker and publicly searched him inside the store, TMZ said. But the employee’s pat down revealed Whitaker hadn’t taken anything. The actor apparently then left the store, baffled and angry.
“It was around lunchtime and the store was packed,” said a Milano employee who refused to give his name. “We were like 50 people deep. The person walked in and out really quickly so our person just made a mistake. The employee apologized immediately. It was an honest mistake. I’ve been here 14 years and nothing like this has ever happened.”
Whitaker’s representative said he did not call the authorities, at the request of the worker who was in fear of losing his job, though he did ask that the store change how it treats its customers.
“What is most unfortunate about this situation is the inappropriate way store employees are treating patrons of their establishment.”
“Forest asked that, in the future, the store change their behavior and treat the public in a fair and just manner,” she said.
Many stars frequent the Columbia University-area gourmet deli specializing in Italian fare. Tobey McGuire and Sarah Jessica Parker have been spotted at the upscale grocery.
Still, Whittaker’s representative said the star was troubled by the incident.
“This was an upsetting incident given the fact that Forest did nothing more than walk into the deli,” said his publicist, Jennifer Plante.