This story is both heartbreaking and infuriating.
21-year-old Jonathan Hart was shot in the back of the neck after a security guard thought he stole a $2.99 water flavoring product from a Los Angeles Walgreens store earlier this month. Now, Hart’s family is suing the company for $525 million.
The murder happened at the Walgreens on Sunset and Vine in Hollywood on December 2 around 8 PM. Hart’s family believes the store’s security guard, who has not been named, targeted their son because he was a gay black man.
According to their lawyer, civil rights attorney Carl Douglas, Hart was in the store with another black man looking at the water flavoring product. The security approached them and an argument ensued.
“The guard feels the man push him one time,” Douglas recounted during a press conference this week. “The guard pushes the man back one time. The guard watches as the man turns to run toward the back door.”
“The guard raises his gun and points at the man. The guard says, ‘Freeze,’ as the man travels toward the door. The guard fires one shot, striking the man in the back of the neck. The guard watches as the man crumbles to the ground.”
— Carl E. Douglas (@CEDEsq) December 11, 2018
Hart, who was unarmed, later died at a nearby hospital, where it was determined that the only thing in his possession at the time of his death was his California ID card.
The $2.99 water flavoring product was never stolen.
“Jonathan was not shoplifting,” Douglas insisted. “Let me repeat that. Jonathan was not shoplifting when he was shot. That’s the propaganda Walgreens wants you to report.”
The company issued a statement offering its “deepest and most sincere condolences” to Hart’s family, and saying “we immediately terminated the security company” that employed Hart’s murderer.
It also said it contracts armed security guards “in our stores based on the public safety needs of each location”, though Douglas noted only four Walgreens locations in the entire L.A. area keep armed guards.
“Each of these stores are in the black, brown and homeless and LGBT communities,” he said, “and we want to know why.”
He added: “I dare say, Jonathan Hart was profiled because he was homeless. He was harassed because he was gay. And he was shot because he was black.”