A group of teens and their parents say they’re filing a civil suit against Target after the boys were detained at a Westlake Village location Sunday. They believe they were falsely accused because of the color of their skin.
The teens were shopping for snacks, when they say a theft occurred involving Black men. They boys said it had nothing to do with them.
“We were walking around and we saw some kids steal some phones,” said 16-year-old Aaron Frederickson.
A few minutes later, a store employee asked them to leave and the teens say they were confused but complied and headed for the door. When they got there, it was blocked with shopping carts.
They were told they were being detained and authorities were on their way, according to 17-year-old Malik Aaron.
“They’re keeping my son and his friends there. They’ve got carts and what not to block them. That is totally inappropriate,” said Frederickson’s mom, Chris Frederickson.
Sheriff’s deputies were called, and video shows the teens in handcuffs.
“They were really rough with us and it kind of hurt me,” said Greg Kim, 16. “I guess this is just the world we live in. People who are the same color as you, you automatically get associated with the crime.”
Kim’s mom, Angel Refuerzo, says she was hurt by the incident.
“I don’t even know what Target said when they called but the way the police reacted, it just made me so upset because I know that my son was scared,” Refuerzo said.
The Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station confirmed there was no crime and the boys were released. But the Thousand Oaks moms say the damage was done.
“I feel the humiliation of just being confronted in such a situation that’s so public,” said Aaron’s mom, La Shaun Aaron.
Attorney Toni Jaramilla says the teens had no connection to those individuals who stole from Target
“They automatically assumed, because they’re Black, that they were part of a crime,” Jaramilla said. “They boxed them in, so there’s a false imprisonment action that we can allege. We’re looking into action against the Sheriff’s Department because they were detaining minors, they didn’t call their parents. They were treating them very roughly.”
In a statement, Target said, in part, “We want all Target guests to feel welcome and respected whenever they shop in our stores. We’re deeply sorry for what happened and we’ve terminated the security team member who was involved.”
Target went on to say that they will be reaching out to the involved parties to offer a “personal apology.”