Suspect in Target beating gets 4 months in jail, probation after pleading guilty

Teen takes plea deal in Target beating

DALLAS -- One of the suspects accused of beating a man outside of a Dallas Target store in January has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.

Dallas District Attorney Faith Johnson said Thursday that Zantrell Sauls, 17, also pleaded guilty to robbery for a separate event that happened the same day, Jan. 14, that he attacked Derek Whitener outside Target on Haskell Avenue.

DA Johnson says Whitener approved the sentence of 10 years probation for Sauls, with four months of jail time.

"We want young adults who may be considering criminal behavior to know that probation does not mean you are beyond the eyes of the law," Johnson said. "Because of Zantrell Sauls’ actions, for the next 10 years, he will be closely monitored by the court. It is up to him to choose the right path.”

Whitener and other shoppers reported Sauls and another juvenile to Target security that day, believing that they were acting "suspicious" outside the store. The suspects then followed Whitener to his car as he left and beat him with a wooden rod. 

His skull was fractured and he had to undergo brain surgery.

A civil lawsuit filed against Target claims security personnel advised against called the police when Whitener said he was concerned about the suspects. The theater director was told a police officer was at the store and would "take care of it."

The suit, which seeks at least $1 million in damages, also claims the suspects told Whitener, "So we heard that you fear us. We are going to teach you what fear is,' before the attack.

Last week Whitener's attorney Chris Hamilton released the following statement about the ongoing civil case:

"Derek’s life will never be the same after this attack. We are grateful to the Dallas Police Department for their hard work on this case. Unfortunately, the level of criminal activity at Target is so out of control that unless Target is held accountable and forced to clean up their act, this is going to happen again to someone else, next time at the hands of a different criminal. Derek is determined to do whatever it takes to make sure this never happens again."

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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