When a Hispanic woman spotted a white family with a black child at Cosco, she whipped out her phone and began to record. Accusing the white parents of racism and sexually abusing the girl, the woman uploaded the video to social media. She would soon learn, however, that she had made a very big mistake.
Angelica Marie Mendez, a 23-year-old Hispanic woman of Desert Hot Springs, California, caused significant public outrage after she recorded a white family at Cosco and uploaded the now-viral footage to social media. In the clip, Mendez, who is seen filming the family at a Cosco in Palm Desert, accuses the white parents of sexually abusing their black, adopted child. However, there was just one problem.
“In her posts, which have since been deleted, Mendez said the black girl seemed sad so she approached her to ask what was wrong. She claimed that the girl ‘begged for help’ and said her parents raped and abused her,” the Daily Mail reported.
“So this family, they’re not feeding their adopted child,” Mendez declares in the video that quickly went viral across social media. “She’s crying. They’re being racist towards their daughter. We need to expose these people, this family,” she adds as she alleges that the white family is “disowning” the girl and “probably using her as a slave.” After declaring that she called 911, Mendez concluded the video by saying, “I’m not about to watch this go by. That is very rude and very disgusting of these people.”
Although police did not arrive at the scene, Mendez did complete a police report. In the meantime, her footage began to spread across the internet like wildfire. Of course, the allegations of wrongdoing against an innocent child sparked indignation on social media. With public outrage mounting, thanks to the footage, social media users identified the girl and her family by name and even publicized the family’s home address. They also found the father’s workplace and included a phone number to call so they could “save” the girl.
The public outrage and concerning allegations prompted authorities to open an investigation that spanned two states. Officials with both the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and Gilbert Police Department, in Arizona, who contacted the family, determined that the video was not accurate. In fact, authorities claimed that Mendez not only wrongfully accused the white family, whom she did not know, of abusing the teen, but she had also “weaponized” her video, spreading “false information,” making “criminal accusations,” and promoting “racial bias against what is by all accounts a happy and healthy family.”
According to a tweet from the Gilbert Police Department, the child in question was “safe and in good health.” The tweet added, “Through their investigation and subsequent interviews, it was found that the child had refused to eat the day of the video recording due to an upset stomach.” The Gilbert police also explained that the Arizona Department of Child Safety conducted its own separate investigation into the incident and that “no evidence of any crime has been established.”
After her accusations caused “significant public outrage,” which “set in motion hundreds of staff-hours, by several law enforcement agencies, in two separate states,” according to a press release from the Riverside County Sherriff’s Department, Angelica Marie Mendez was arrested for lying to police and falsely accusing the family of sexually assaulting and abusing their daughter. Mendez was booked into the John Benoit Detention Center and charged with reporting a false crime and providing false information to a police officer, both misdemeanor offenses.
“There were four independent investigations related to this incident. All four of the independent investigations concluded the allegations were false,” investigators said in a press release, NBC News reported. “It appears the reporting person had seemingly made up the allegations and had no supporting evidence to substantiate her claims. Her claims, both to law enforcement and publicly had numerous inconsistencies.”
Deputies also explained that the countless calls to their Dispatch Center took up valuable time and hindered offering emergency services for other citizens who were in need. “The Sheriff’s Department would also like to explain that if this were a legitimate criminal incident, the frivolous aspects and misinformation would have hindered the investigation and ultimately the welfare of the child. Not to mention the adverse effect on any future prosecution efforts,” the press release said.
“While we appreciate the understandable outrage with child crimes, we encourage the public to be engaged and helpful toward law enforcement, so it can be a community effort when combating crime,” authorities added, reminding the public that we cannot believe everything we see on social media. Indeed, there is so often more to the story than meets the eye. Although many who shared Mendez’s video thought they were “helping,” they were instead spreading fabricated allegations.
While it might seem innocent enough, the sheriff’s department pointed out that the “reckless actions” of Mendez and those who believed her without any real evidence “caused this family to suffer through death threats, closure of the father’s business, and unnecessary stress and drama to the child.” Remember that the next time you see a clip or a post that claims one thing but doesn’t show any proof of it. If you are still truly concerned, report it to the authorities rather than sharing it on social media.