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‘They Wouldn’t Let Us Leave’: Employees Reportedly Blocked Black Teens from Leaving California Target After Falsely Accusing Them of Theft, Apologies Follow

Retail giant Target has issued an apology after three Black teenagers were wrongfully detained at a Los Angeles store location earlier this month.

A viral video captured via cellphone shows several Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies holding the teens’ hands behind their backs during a grand theft investigation inside the Westlake Village store.

In an apology statement related to the incident, Target announced that the security team member involved had been terminated.

One of the teenagers, 17-year-old Malik Aaron, told CBS Los Angeles that he and four friends were walking home from church on Jan. 17 when they stopped at the Target to purchase snacks.

A viral video captured via cellphone shows several Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies holding three Black teens’ hands behind their backs during a grand theft investigation inside a Westlake Village Target store. (Photo: La Shaun Aaron Facebook)

The group witnessed a separate group of males steal iPhones and leave the store, and afterward an employee began to follow the group around and accused them of loitering, according to Aaron.

“We were walking around and we saw some kids steal some phones,” said 16-year-old Aaron Frederickson, another one of the detained teens.

When the group tried to leave, they realized Target employees had blocked the exit with shopping carts.

“They wouldn’t let us leave at all, but they were letting other people leave,” said Aaron.

Three deputies arrived and detained the teens near the front of the store. One teen was placed in handcuffs and put in a police car for 20 minutes before he was released. A friend of the detained teens filmed the encounter on a cellphone.

Aaron’s mother, La Shaun Aaron, also said a deputy slapped her son’s phone out of his hand when he attempted to film the situation, and said it was her son who was thrown into the back of a patrol car.

“They were really rough with us and it kind of hurt me,” said 16-year-old Greg Kim, who was also detained.

The teens were released and no arrests were made.

Aaron’s mother posted the footage of the incident to Facebook. She said she believes the teens were racially profiled.

“They were targeted because they were children of color,” the 43-year-old mom told the Los Angeles Times. “They were automatically associated with people that had committed a crime because they were also Black.”

Sheriff’s Capt. Sal “Chuck” Becerra said the teens were detained by the store’s loss prevention officers and were released after it was discovered that they were not involved in the grand theft.

Becerra said there was no evidence that the deputies used physical force when detaining the teens, and denied that a deputy had damaged the teen’s phone.

Evidence does not show “any allegations of wrongdoing, use of force, violation of our department policies, or violation of any laws on behalf of the deputies,” the sheriff’s captain wrote on the department’s Facebook page.

Attorney Toni Jaramilla, who will file a suit against Target on behalf of the three families in connection with the incident, questioned how the Sheriff’s Office reached the conclusion that no polices had been violated so quickly, and said Target should consider promotional practices to ensure greater diversity among management.

In a statement, Target announced the termination of one security member involved, and shared that racial bias training would be mandatory for all leaders at the store.

“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. What happened to these guests is in direct opposition to the inclusive experience we want all our guests to have,” the statemnet said. “Our security team member took action and stopped these guests in violation of Target’s security procedures. We expect our team members to follow Target’s security processes and treat all guests with respect. Additionally, all leaders at the store will retake mandatory security and racial bias training. Finally, and most importantly, we’re reaching out to all of the guests who were involved to offer a personal apology.”

What people are saying

73 thoughts on “‘They Wouldn’t Let Us Leave’: Employees Reportedly Blocked Black Teens from Leaving California Target After Falsely Accusing Them of Theft, Apologies Follow

  1. FUCK YOU TARGET!!!! What is an apology supposed to do? Your racist policies and procedures make this possible! It allows for your prejudiced employees to be emboldened in their practices when dealing with people of color!! The Target stores in VA are JUST as fucking bad!!!

  2. Enrique Pagan says:

    Why is my only question, why, when will people learn that this is no longer tolerated when?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dam shame target loss prevention need to be charge with kidnapped for holding them kids I dont believe loss prevention story about some other black kids stole some bphone because their phone tried down racist profiles at it finest

  4. Tracy says:

    Target is NOT allowed to hold anyone in the store for stealing it’s against store policy, if they leave the store then it’s consider theft. This case they are innocent and target is in a lot of trouble they should be sued for what they did.

  5. Ron Kasek says:

    Of course the deputy is going to DENY that he slapped the phone out of the young dudes hands because NOW he or the department or Target has to either PAY FOR a NEW ONE!!

  6. Alice says:

    This is sad, however, not shocking , it’s been happening, but we’ve got to stop it, hit‘ em where it hurts. Don’t shop there.

  7. Anonymous says:

    i am actually not shock by it .

  8. Anonymous says:

    Assholes

  9. Punam says:

    You misspelled “statement” in your last paragraph.

  10. Reggie says:

    Looks like a lawsuit to me for public embarrassment, falsely imprisonment by detaining them with no proof the police were doing their job the parents of the team should go after Target and the security company…

  11. Shanta says:

    That’s just disgusting our children can’t even shop .you should be ashamed of yourselves and I hope they due you for every penny

  12. Earlie C says:

    When will it stop? How much humiliation must we endure because of preconceived notions that all Black people are thieves? You’re watching Blacks while Whites are robbing you blind.

  13. Barbara J. Warren says:

    I’m usually apology accepted, but in this instead sue Target To me bull was lame
    SUE THEM

  14. I was disrespected and deliberately misdirected by a member service clerk with non-company procedures to open a TargetRedcard application. I was cheated out of the 5% incentive given to everyone for approval of the TargetRedcard Debit application. Plus, I did not receive a barcode temporary paper card to show during future shopping trips to Target.

    I earnestly feel and believe the racially profiled stigma of systemic racism was jointly and actively utilized by several Target team members in San Diego county Target stores on Thursday,1/21/2021 and Friday, 1/22/2021 by the female Store Manager in Grossmont Center Mall in La Mess, CA by a male Security Member, female night Store Lead. On Monday,1/25/21 in the College Grove store #3424 a male Target Member Services male Team lead promptly took over my transaction in the Exchange/Return department from another team member, who was directed to help moved another customer. After processing my transactions, the male Team lead rush off without bagging my clothing. Instead, he left my purchased clothing loosing gathered in front of me~ for me to fold and bag myself. Needless to say, I was offended and shocked by this blatant disrespectful regard from Target Corporation team lead. During this time, a younger Target team member witnessed all of this.

    The nearby team member asked if I wanted to buy a bag? I responded , “Of course, I’m not going to walking out of the store with merchandise in my arms, plus it’s raining and windy outside”. The youngman team member said, “The bag is 10 cents . And proceeded to say, “Other customers carry purchases in their arm all the time”. I shook my head in disbelief.

    Needless to say, I was further offended and put back by this blatant disrespectful display of poor customer service shown to me as a Target Corporation shopper, who happens to be a Black female senior who lives in the area of Lemon Grove and La Mesa, San Diego for many years. Of course, I will escalate this poor behavior and display of of poor customer service/customer experience to Target leadership Corporate,

  15. Anonymous says:

    Fuck you, Target. I’d rather step foot in lowly Wal-Mart than you.
    Never again.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Shame on you TARGET. You need to do more to make this right. Your treatment of these teens will have long term damage to them.

  17. Frances says:

    I wish the stuff on here was easier to read, instead of constantly tapping on (Next), next, next! I get so frustrated I stop reading. I just st want to read the entire story on one page. Frustrating!

  18. Anon says:

    If I am correct there is a store policy that says if someone is suspected of stealing you as an employee are not to approach them and cannot accuse them of stealing.

  19. Phyllis says:

    Wow. They got a lawyer fast ! Probably want free merchandise or they set it up !

  20. Anonymous says:

    Wrong

  21. Kenny Stubbs says:

    I am tired of hearing this i am a black citizen but also a tax payer we need too make a strong statement and boycott target.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Sue for being falsely accused racially!
    Target would never get away with this black person being there! Believe what I say.

  23. T Charles says:

    The only apology you’ll want is Isa Big check and put some respect on young Kings when they present check for that and one for being dumb. .Bagg it up .MoMA get some our people money back.time pay pooper.$$$$

  24. Donahue says:

    Lawsuit baby. Ask for a trillion..

  25. Jean Dough says:

    First, the parents need to teach these kids the Constitution and to respect authority, even when they’re wrong. Second, the fact that an employee was was fired for violating store policies makes a case for false imprisonment. Third, stop trying to use the mistakes of others as a springboard for a financial windfall; any of these kids could have been killed in this incident…..

  26. Anonymous says:

    I believe whoever gave the order to block the door shoulbe temove too. Not only the security

  27. Rich says:

    Keep up the good work of reporting these incidents and making them widespread public knowledge. Hopefully, eventually these people that have positions of authority will get the message to stop this behaviour and get a different mind set. And the lame statements by the retailers about “that’s not their store policy with apologies and promises of retraining” are getting very trite and shop worn. How about retraining your people BEFORE they forget store policy. Anyway that’s my two cents.

  28. Kenneth says:

    Target pays $26 million to the families of victims for the tragic suffering caused by the heinous racism of their employees. Meanwhile Target stores in the city are looted and burned to the ground

  29. Jerri says:

    No apologiez accepted. Bring a civil suit for gross injustice.

  30. Anonymous says:

    That’s just sad. All blacks do NOT steal and do not look alike. That’s why I don’t shop there any more.

  31. Mreed says:

    Ugh! Damn white folks

  32. Remell says:

    You don’t detain a person if you didn’t see them take or conceal an item belonging to the store and leave the store with the item! Momma needs to sue!

  33. White boy says:

    Happened to me as a white boy in the suburbs – stop with the race baiting bullshit cause we all know y’all are making money for every click on yalls bullshit divisiveness

  34. Earl says:

    Sounds like a boycott is needed.

  35. Connetta Brown says:

    They always want to apologize after the fact. Just to make it seem like they care. Sue them and own a part of Target 🎯

  36. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm all I’m saying

  37. Liz says:

    Screw the apology. That is holding them hostage. Sue Target. They won’t learn until their bottom line is impacted!

  38. Eborn says:

    Can not hear what was going on ??????????

  39. Laticia Scott says:

    I said it before, we ARE NOT FREE.

    WE ARE CAGE FREE. CHICKENS
    allocated to the yards of each municipality.
    Chickens follow the path of the one who
    has the grain ( the stores schools civic resources. )
    This makes you think you’re free.
    You falsely be loo eive youre8 free until the Master reached down to pick a few chickens to wring their
    necks .
    You never know when the trap is set to wring your neck.
    Thank GOD the teens , children were not physically
    harmed.
    But Psychologically there are deep scars.
    Im we wounded and I was not physically there that time.
    Message :
    WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM SHALL NOT REST.
    WHAT WILL YOU DO TO BE AND REMAIN FREE.
    THE TEENS WERE TARGETED IN TARGET.
    A YOUNG MAN LOST HIS LIFE IN WAL MART.
    HE WAD JUST A CUSTOMER LOOKING AT A RIFLE.
    WE. ARE NOT FREE.
    WHAT WILL YOU DO ABOUT IT?
    WHAT?

  40. Melissa says:

    Pathetic

  41. vituia says:

    Fuck that. Fuck target. #fucktarget

  42. Bryant Davis says:

    We wont know all of what happened until video footage is released, in ots entirety cell phone, police officer and tatget surveillance video. Police deparments SHOULDN’T be allowed to investigate themselves. The majority of police depts have been shown to be corrupt.

  43. Kj says:

    Target is a very high standard and integrity driven company I trust that they will fix this human error.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Now they are around there arresting innocent people, while the ones who are actually stealing are robbing them blind.

  45. Shannon Carthron says:

    so please explain this to me like I’m six years old is that not kidnapping holding someone against their will? You let the white people go but you detained the black people. That’s kidnapping that’s exactly what that is you did kidnapped those children because somebody said that they stole the f****** iPhone are you kidding me? Target you will never get my business again and you can have your card back I’ve sliced that up to I Will Never shop in your store ever again and I will make sure that everybody black knows not to shop in your store ever again for fear of being kidnapped!

  46. Jp says:

    Cry me a river always got to be racist profiling they want to talk about stop the racists stuff but they always bringing it up

  47. Medusa Brown says:

    They ignore the thieves on security cameras of european descent. Sad but true.

  48. Bee says:

    Does Target really think a “I am sorry” is good enough. The embarrassment the undignified whay the teens were treated in the store like that. No. Sometimes sorry is not enough.

  49. Vernon Byron says:

    false im·pris·on·ment
    the state of being imprisoned without legal authority

    Emotional distress is a type of mental suffering or anguish induced by an incident of either negligence or through intent.

  50. Proud to serve says:

    Lawyer up. And keep going to church.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Target ALWAYS RACIALLY PROFILE!!!

  52. Anonymous says:

    Target in San Antonio Texas definitely racially profiles its customers!!!

  53. Georgijaña Balugo says:

    Phuck Target
    🎯Bullseye my @ss

  54. Phillip says:

    I feel the losangles sheriff
    Should retrain their officers
    On correct handling of under
    Age people.

  55. W. Scott says:

    Racial profiling at its finest. What gets me is that no one even tried to look for the people who stole the iPhone.
    Also the police didn’t need to put handcuffs on only one of the teens.
    Racial profiling at it’s core. America just won’t wake up.
    Good luck to those teens. My prayers are with u.

  56. Corey Johnson says:

    I really hope that the homegirl LaShaun Aaron pursues full legal action against Target & the Los Angeles Sheriff Department. If you need assistance finding aggressive civil legal counsel hit my inbox. It’s why I jus said don’t raise black children out there. This kid comes from a good family, he’s a good kid, he shouldn’t be treated like that but they picked the wrong one, this time. 💯

  57. Sharon says:

    Target should have trained leaders before this happened. This is 2021 and people of color are STILL going through this. I see it…its hard to even shop freely eithout someone asking you seversl times ” can I help you”. Sorry these young men had to be the victims of unjust.

  58. John Jones says:

    So after the apologies from Target, what’s the police chief saying now .

  59. Anonymous says:

    Why do you all think that because of your skin color ( black ) we all are thieves , white people steal just as much and maybe more , you look the other way but when they are black they get beat slammed around and taken to jail

  60. Tara says:

    I think y’all are to high. I was in one in Nashville, and the cashier I told her what a price said and she said it was not that. Basically buy it or not. I guess you know it was a not. I thought they honored prices. Have not been back.

  61. Gregory Moyd says:

    Several things,.. there does seem to be a need for sensitivity training, including a segment on race relations. That being said, society needs to move away from ethnic identity, and implement character identity. These young men are Christian. That should be the primary criteria for identifying them, not their ethnicity. We could all do good to look at/for someone’s value, not their vice.

  62. Linda says:

    I love shopping at target’s. My favorite store. I hope this not what it Is coming too. I know some times I feel watched more in target’s. The ones that are stealing are not being watched. I know this for a fact. Friday’s and Saturdays are bad I avoid the store as much as possible.

  63. Richola Polston says:

    Apology not accepted. This happens too often. It’s time to end this. Only two ways to do that (1) lawsuit – huge lawsuit. (2) BOYCOTT. Pass along the fact that it was false that store personnel put their hands on them & this is not accepted. Store employees are not allowed to touch/detain shoppers in anyway it’s called ASSUALT. NOTHING IN THE STORE BELONGS TO ANY EMPPLOYEE. THEREFORE THE EMPLOYEE IS IN THE WRONG.

  64. Sandra says:

    Not nothing new.

  65. Anonymous says:

    That is so sad because of what someone else has done. These young men were probably scared . Wow what a impression you left on them. The crazy part is I like Target but you might of lost a customer. Also I would sue the pants off of Target and the Sheriff department.

  66. Leonard R. says:

    Its ok, just reading this has cost them this customer. I will NEVER shop in a Target store. The lame ‘we respect all people’ line is getting old.

  67. Doug says:

    This is how blacks get treated and this isn’t the first it happened it was just caught on tape …and the security guard more than likely been harassing black people

  68. Anonymous says:

    Just like all white people are not racist all black people are not thugs remember that stop with the racial profiling

  69. Dee says:

    When will these businesses learn that all Black people are not thieves ! It is evident most of us shop and spend money in your stores … I for one am a frequent shopper but I may need to shop elsewhere until these companies start treating us with more respect !!! Shame shame shame !!!!

  70. Anonymous says:

    If they were watching that close they would’ve found the real thieves who stole their phones . Injustice is always just us !!! Smh

  71. Yvonne Griffin says:

    As a Black resident of NY State And will not be shopping at Target’s ANYMORE

  72. Anonymous says:

    The sheriff department did something wrong why would you detain someone for 20 mins that did nothing wrong

  73. Kyle Timpson says:

    This is horrible this is just another example of what happens to black people on the daily. These kids were just shopping and now they’re being detained because of the color of their skin. They’re being detained for someone else’s crime. You humiliated them in front of an entire store of customers! And all you did was apologize and fired one security man. Not to mention one of the security guards isn’t even wearing mask last I checked we were in the middle of a pandemic. Get your shit together target!

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