A seemingly innocent case of mistaken identity at a Virginia Target led to the unlawful detainment and arrest of a black man.
The Colonial Heights Police Department is being accused of overreacting after officer’s detained and arrested 22-year-old Cedrick Jamir Chavis simply for asking a question.
The incident began on Thursday afternoon at the Target store on Southpark Boulevard, where a 12-year-old girl was shopping with her mother and siblings.
The girl told police that Chavis approached her and asked her if she remembered him from high school.
The girl later told police she felt “uncomfortable” by Chavis’ “odd question.”
“[The girl] reported to us that she did not feel free to get away from this individual, at that point she was scared and fled,” Colonial Heights Police Captain William Anspach told WTVR.
The girl told her mother who called her husband — an off-duty police officer.
The officer, who was dressed in street clothes, arrived at the Target and told Chavis to stay in the store to wait for uniformed officers.
But Chavis rightfully refused to stay and a confrontation ensued between him and the off-duty cop.
Unlawful detainment is legal in Virginia if an officer or a citizen has probable cause or reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred.
Chavis eventually left the store and fled on his bicycle. But he dropped his cell phone during the confrontation.
A bloodhound picked up the scent from the dropped phone and led a posse of police officers to a nearby store where Chavis was located.
Chavis was arrested and hit with a laundry list of charges including attempted abduction, assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, and marijuana possession.
Further investigation revealed Chavis was out on bond for a May 12 strong armed robbery arrest that occurred outside a Wal-Mart.
WTVR reports that, “given the nature of the incident,” police circulated Chavis’ photo out into the public — even though police admit the girl “was never touched” by Chavis.
“We want to make sure there’s no other potential victims out there that may have been approached by this individual, or have seen him doing any other illegal activity,” Anspach said.