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People in Target video could face 'pretty severe penalties,' legal analyst says

Todd Stone: 'If a good Samaritan intervenes and stops an abduction or robbery, they could be legally justified in shooting someone'
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Posted at 8:27 PM, Aug 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-22 23:35:02-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Crime Insider sources said investigators are exploring all avenues to see if a crime was committed after video showed an apparent abduction outside a Virginia Target store that police later called a "misunderstanding."

The surveillance video outside the Westchester Commons Target store Friday night showed a young man jump out of the passenger side of an SUV and then shove a female into the trunk before the SUV took off.

"I wonder about their influence from social media,” one Target shopper said Sunday. “And I'm thinking they ought to come down hard on them because they’re tying up resources and, first of all, scaring you to death about what could happen when you go to the Target."

Police initially treated the incident as an apparent abduction, but after releasing the video early Saturday they learned the identities of those involved and later that morning called what happened a "misunderstanding.”

But investigators said their investigation into the case is ongoing.

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RELATED: Possible abduction outside Target was 'misunderstanding,' police say

Todd Stone, a legal analyst for WTVR CBS 6, said good video in the case “goes a long way in helping to prove the simulated crime.”

“But a prosecutor also must prove they did it with the intent to mislead the police," Stone explained.

Stone said there is a civil and criminal case to be made and investigators are exploring their options, according to Crime Insider sources.

"If they end up getting charged and convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor, a judge has the authority to give them up to a 12 months in jail and up to a $2500 fine,” Stone said. “So those are some pretty severe penalties for trying to get some extra followers or whatever it is on social media they're trying to do."

What is being called a misunderstanding could have taken another turn, one shopper worried.

"I'm thinking somebody could have reacted and done something to stop it -- and it was really a hoax -- then they could they get in trouble,” a shopper said. “There's all types of ramifications."

Stone called the scenario a potential “powder keg.”

“Because if someone simulates a crime publicly, and a good Samaritan intervenes and stops an abduction or robbery, they could be legally justified in shooting someone in that situation."

Additionally, Stone said that in a civil court those involved could be ordered by a judge to pay restitution for resources used to investigate the incident.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.