Security personnel at a Dallas Target store advised against calling police when a local theater director expressed concern about the men who would eventually attack him, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.
Derek Whitener reported suspicious men in the parking lot during a late-night visit to the Cityplace Target store near US 75 and Haskell January 14.
Those same men allegedly beat Whitener with a wooden rod when he left the store.
According to the lawsuit, members of the Target security team warned, “Do not let him call the police. Don’t call the police” when Whitener alerted them of the suspects. Whitener was told Target had a police officer present who would “take care of it,” the lawsuit reads.
Before he left the store that night, Whitener was told it was safe to leave, according to the lawsuit.
The suit claims the men told Whitener, “So we heard that you fear us. We are going to teach you what fear is.”
Whitener’s attorney, Chris Hamilton, told WFAA Thursday that the Cityplace Target is “the most dangerous corporate-owned retail store that I’ve ever seen.” In the three years leading up to the attack on Whitener, Dallas police have received at least 223 calls about criminal activity there -- including at least 94 for “violent disturbances” -- according to call logs cited in Thursday’s lawsuit.
WFAA reached out to Target for comment and received this brief statement in response:
"Target does not yet have the details of the lawsuit, so we’re not able to respond to any of the allegations."
The lawsuit accuses the Target employees of negligence and fraud that resulted in Whitener suffering a fractured skull and a brain injury.
Whitener was released from the hospital days after the attack, but still faces a “long road to full recovery,” according to the lawsuit. He still has stroke-like injuries, including impeded speech as well as impaired mental and motor function.
The lawsuit seeks at least $1 million in damages.