North Texas Man Suing Target After Getting Beat Up in Store Parking Lot
A Dallas man is suing the retail chain Target, saying their negligence in security lead to him being assaulted in one of their store's parking lots.
Back in January, Derek Whitener was beaten with a stick by a pair of teenage boys while leaving the Target store on N. Haskell Avenue in Dallas. The assault put Whitener into a coma for several days, and resulted in lingering injuries including permanent brain damage, limited function in his right hand, and speech impairment. Whitener is now suing Target for $1 million, saying the store's negligence in addressing a security concern allowed him to be assaulted.
According to the lawsuit, Whitener noticed the two boys wearing masks following him as he entered the store. Whitener notified the store's security, a point that has been confirmed by Dallas Police, but the head of security allegedly told employees to not allow Whitener to notify the police, insisting they could handle the situation themselves. The head of security went into the parking lot with an off-duty police officer, confronted the pair of boys, and instructed them to leave the area. When Whitener was ready to leave the store, he asked security if it was safe to do so, and was told it was. When he reached the parking lot, the two boys reappeared and told Whitener, "So, we heard you fear us. We are going to teach you what fear is." before beating him. Both boys have since been arrested and are awaiting trial.
According to Whitener's attorney, Chris Hamilton, Whitener never saw a security guard or off-duty officer in the parking lot, and this lawsuit is meant to force Target to accept responsibility for their lack of actions,
This isn't a situation of a random criminal act at an otherwise safe and properly operated location. This is a situation where we have an unacceptable recurring pattern of violence. But even more -- even if nothing like this had ever happened at this Target store before, even if there weren't hundreds of prior violent criminal incidents, when a customer comes in and says there are men in masks armed with sticks out in the parking lot and I feel threatened, a store has an obligation to be honest with the customer, to not interfere with the customer calling police and to provide basic protection.
What Derek wants to see happen is for Target to clean up their act, take responsibility for what happened, and take the steps to make sure this doesn't happen again. Rather than just continue to cover up the problem in a way that endangers the community.
According to NBCDFW, the lawsuit notes the store has a bad reputation for criminal acts, with over 220 calls to the Dallas Police Department logged from that Target location over the last three years.