Authorities in Los Angeles have filed murder charges against security guard Donald Vincent Ciota II in the shooting of an unarmed black gay man in a Hollywood Walgreens.
While working as an armed security guard on December 2nd, army veteran Ciota shot 21-year-old Jonathan Hart (alias Sky Young) in the back following a dispute in a Walgreens drug store. According to witness statements, Hart and Ciota engaged in a verbal argument over an item priced at $2.99. When Hart tried to run out of the store, Ciota shot him. Hart died at the scene.
Hart’s family commended the Los Angeles district attorney following the filing of the murder charges. They claim Ciota targeted Jonathan because he was black and gay. The family has also announced they plan to file a $525 million lawsuit against Walgreens, and is organizing a boycott against 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.
Ciota’s attorney, Mark Geragos (noted for his representation of Michael Jackson during his child molestation trial) has claimed that Ciota only acted in self-defense. “If this were a police officer, they would be lauding him,” Geragos said. “He was assaulted. He defended himself.”
Walgreens said in a statement that the company supports the prosecution. A judge has set Ciota’s bail at $3 million.