Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said three teenage black men were wrongly detained in a Target store during last week’s large theft investigation
VENTURA, Calif. – The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said three teenagers who are black were wrongly detained at a Target store in Westlake Village last week during a major theft investigation.
Thousand Oaks teenagers – one 17 and two 16 – walked home on Jan. 17 after visiting church with friends when they decided to stop at Target to buy snacks, the Ventura County Star reported.
The teens said Target staff and county representatives were victims of racial profiling.
One of the boys told Star that he and his friends were unaware that a shoplift had taken place while they were in the store where the suspects smashed through the glass of the electronics department and stole smartphones.
“An employee at the store followed us, who told us,‘ Hey, I can’t let you guys get lazy, ’” he said, saying the group decided to leave, but blocked the exit with shopping carts.
The teenager said Target security staff did not allow the teenagers to leave despite other visitors quitting.
Then came three MPs who detained the teenagers at the beginning of the deal, one of them handcuffed and placed in a police vehicle for up to 20 minutes before being released. Authorities later reported that the store’s loss prevention staff identified them as suspects.
Captain Sal “Chuck” Becerra said in a statement to social media on Friday that the teenagers had been released and an internal investigation found no evidence of excessive effort.
Target has issued a statement saying the company apologized to the teenagers, fired a member of one of the security teams, and required the store’s employees to take on safety and racial bias training.
The mother of the handcuffed teenager has since detained attorney Toni Jaramilla to sue her son for violating her civil rights. He disputes the report by MPs, which states that excessive force has not been used.
“The way they were detained was very aggressive and unnecessary for the situation,” Jaramilla said.