WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (KABC) -- A group of Black teenagers were detained by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies inside a Westlake Village Target store after they were wrongfully accused of shoplifting, prompting the retail company to issue an apology.
Cellphone video from Sunday that has since gone viral shows when the teens were getting detained.
The young men - Malik Aaron, Aaron Frederickson and Greg Kim - say another group of teens shoplifted.
The trio were told they couldn't leave the store while other customers did.
Greg says a Target employee approached them and asked if they needed help. When they responded they didn't, the employee told them, "We can't have you guys loitering around." He said they were stopped by security when they walked toward the exit.
They say at one point, an employee of the store blocked the exit with shopping carts.
Some of the teens began recording once deputies arrived.
"Once they saw I was recording, one of the officers really started getting aggressive with me and he smacked my phone out of my hand," Malik Aaron said.
"The officer threw me in the car and he told me to shut the eff up after he threw me in the car," Malik said. "And my feet were still hanging out the vehicle and he had totally just slammed the door on my feet."
Target issued an apology saying in part:
"...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. Our security team member took action and stopped these guests in violation of Target's security procedures."
Target added that all leaders at the store will retake mandatory security and racial bias training.
"We were just immediately thought of as criminals," said Aaron Frederickson.
The families plan to file a civil lawsuit against Target and the sheriff's department.
The sheriff's department did not comment.
In this case, the teens were not arrested.
According to a 2019 California Department of Justice study, Black children made up 21% of juvenile arrests, but just 5% of the population.
"You know the microaggressions are real," said Malik's mother La Shaun Aaron. "Our kids experience them every day."