Attorneys for men shot by Osceola County deputies outside Target file lawsuit against retailer

The attorneys for the men shot by Osceola County deputies last April have sued Target. The lawsuit said the store allowed their clients to be used as test subjects for a training exercise.

Attorney Mark NeJame said Target and its employees are partly to blame for the incident.


“By allowing law enforcement to be on their property with their permission and use their customers and civilians as human guinea pigs… I mean it’s outrageous,” NeJame said.

In 2022, Osceola County deputies were conducting a training exercise near Target along west U.S. 192, when they were called into action when there were reports of a theft inside the store.

Read: New questions raised into deadly deputy-involved shooting at Target in Osceola County

Detectives said two teens, Joseph Lowe and Michael Gomez, were seen on surveillance video shoplifting Pokemon cards and a pizza by Target employees. They were charged, and those charges were later dropped.

Reports show when they left the store, deputies stopped the car driven by Jayden Baez. Deputies said the car tried to leave, ramming their vehicles, so they fired.

Baez was killed. Lowe and Gomez were injured.

Read: Teen shot by deputies outside Osceola County Target recalls moment bullets started flying

The lawsuit claims that Target allowed the training exercise on their property, putting the men at risk. Lawyers wrote that Target, through its employees, “knew of the plan to use plaintiffs as test subjects for their exercise on their premises,” with NeJame adding, “this whole travesty, this whole killing, this whole maiming, whole shooting somebody in the back, all occurred because Target allowed them to do this, allowed them to be on the property to conduct training exercises, you don’t do that.”

No one else was hurt, but the lawsuit argues that Target has a responsibility to keep their customers safe. The attorneys said that if a law enforcement operation is happening, they should inform the public.

“It put civilians at risk, it put occupants of the vehicle at risk, it put law enforcement at risk, it’s just completely irresponsible and reckless,” attorneys said.

Read: Attorneys: Osceola County deputies didn’t identify themselves before deadly shooting outside Target

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.