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Target Apologizes After Three Black Teens Were Wrongfully Accused of Shoplifting and Detained

Target apologized after three Black teenagers were wrongly detained at its Westlake Village, California store.

Last weekend, Malik Aaron, Aaron Frederickson and Greg Kim, all 16 or 17 years-old, were wrongfully accused of shoplifting and detained by employees of the retail store.

Since the incident, Target has issued a public apology and the security guard involved has been fired.

“We’re deeply sorry for what happened and we’ve terminated the security team member who was involved,” the company said in a statement.

“What happened to these guests is in direct opposition to the inclusive experience we want all our guests to have. Our security team member took action and stopped these guests in violation of Target’s security procedures.”

The company also said it plans to require that all leaders at the Westlake Village store retake a mandatory security and racial bias training class.

The teens were buying snacks at the store after their weekly high school ministry at Calvary Community Church last weekend when they were stopped by store employees who claimed they had seen a group of Black men stealing iPhones.

Aaron’s mother, La Shaun Aaron, told the Los Angeles Times, that the teens tried to leave the store but the employees used shopping carts to block the exits.

Minutes later, sheriff’s deputies arrives at the store and placed the teens in handcuffs, according to Aaron. The three teens were eventually released.

Aaron posted the video of her son and his friends being detained by police at the store and said Target’s apology was not enough. She said her son and his friends were mistreated and racially profiled by both the store’s employees and the responding deputies.

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

Lost Hills Sheriff’s Capt. Sal Becerra issued a statement Friday regarding the Target incident, saying deputies detained the teenagers after they were identified by Target’s loss prevention officers. He went on to say that the teens were then released “without incident” after confirming that they were not involved.

Becerra also said an internal investigation determined there was no “wrongdoing, use of force, violation of our department policies, or violation of any laws on behalf of the deputies.”

Toni Jaramilla, an attorney for the Aaron family, told the Times she plans to file a civil rights lawsuit against Target on behalf of all three families.

“How do you conduct a fair, unbiased and thorough investigation without even contacting Malik and the other boys and their parents?” she asked. “That’s not an investigation.”

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