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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 4, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 01
Security guard charged with murder of unarmed black Gay man in LA Walgreens
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Security guard charged with murder of unarmed black Gay man in LA Walgreens

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office has filed murder charges against a Walgreens security guard who shot an unarmed black Gay homeless man in December.

Donald Vincent Ciota II was working as a security guard at the Hollywood Walgreens on December 2 when he encountered Jonathan Hart - also known in the community as Sky Young - browsing merchandise in the store.

Ciota accused Hart of shoplifted a $2.99 item. According to witness statements, Hart and Ciota engaged in a verbal argument. Hart then turned and tried to run out of the store. Ciota shot him in the back. Hart died at the scene.

Hart's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Walgreens, charging that Ciota shot Hart because he was black, homeless, and Gay, and seeking to recover $525 million in damages. The family is also urging the community to boycott the store until it removes armed guards from stores serving 'the black, the brown, and the homeless communities.'

Walgreens terminated the security company employing Ciota following the incident and has extended its remorse to Hart's family.

The murder charges are separate from the lawsuit. Walgreens said in a statement that the company supports the prosecution. A judge has set Ciota's bail at $3 million.

Hart's family commended the Los Angeles district attorney following the filing of the murder charges.

Ciota's attorney is Mark Geragos, noted for representing high-profile clients, including Michael Jackson and Winona Ryder.

In a public statement, Geragos claimed Ciota shot Hart in self-defense.

'If this were a police officer, they would be lauding him,' Geragos said. 'He was assaulted. He defended himself.'

He did not explain why Hart was shot in the back.

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