Ventura, California (Associated Press) – The Los Angeles County Police Department said three black teens were mistakenly detained at a Target store in Westlake Village during a major theft investigation last week.
The teens – 17 and two 16 – from Thousand Oaks were on their way home on Jan.17 after attending church with friends when they decided to stop by Target to buy snacks, the Ventura County Star. mentioned.
The teens said they were victims of racial profiling by Target employees and county representatives.
One boy told The Star newspaper that he and his friends were unaware of a shop robbery while at the store, as the suspects smashed glass in the electronics department and stole smartphones.
He said, “An employee was following us in the store and said to us,“ Hey, I can’t make you hang out, guys. ”He explained that the group decided to leave but found the outlet fortified with shopping carts.
The teen said that security personnel at Target did not allow the teens to leave despite other visitors leaving.
Three representatives then arrived and detained the teenagers in front of the store, including handcuffing one of them and placing him in a police car for up to 20 minutes before releasing him. Authorities later said that loss prevention officials at the store had identified the suspects.
Capt. Sal “Chuck” Becera said in a statement on social media on Friday that the teenagers had been released and an internal investigation had found no evidence of excessive force.
Target released a statement saying the company had apologized to the teens, fired a member of the security team involved and would ask store employees to retrain security and racial bias.
The mother of the teen, who has since been handcuffed, hired attorney Tony Germila to file a lawsuit alleging violation of her son’s civil rights. She objects to the deputies ’account stating not to use excessive force.
“The way they were arrested was very aggressive and was absolutely necessary for the situation,” Germila said.