A family is demanding justice after Jonathan Hart was shot in the back and killed by a security guard at a Walgreens in Hollywood, California, late last year. A new lawsuit claims the homeless man was targeted because he was Black and gay.
According to NBC News, the lawsuit was filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 26 and says Hart was “maliciously, wrongfully, intentionally, negligently and/or carelessly” shot in the back of his neck and killed on Dec. 2, 2018. He was killed by armed guard Donald Vincent Ciota II. The lawsuit is against Ciota, 28, Walgreens and two security companies that work with the store.
Hart’s friend suggested at the time of the shooting that Ciota had profiled the customers.
“A lot of awful words were exchanged, and we were then followed to the end of the store to complete our transaction,” Aaliyah Haughto told KTLA 5. “An altercation broke out again, scuffle happened, shoves were met.”
The lawsuit also says that “Jonathan committed no crime or other act against defendant Ciota, or any other person, to justify the use of deadly force against him. He was unarmed and did nothing to cause defendant Ciota to believe he was confronting an imminent threat to his life or anyone else’s life.”
In January, Ciota was charged with one count of murder and he was facing a maximum sentence of 50 years to life. NBC reported that he pleaded not guilty and was being held on $3 million bail.
Walgreens said in a statement on Tuesday that claims of its customers being racially profiled are “false and contrary to our deep commitment to inclusive diversity.”
The company also said, “As we stated at the time this tragic incident occurred, we immediately terminated the security company that employed the guard involved. We are fully committed to providing a safe environment for our employees and customers in the communities we serve.”
Hart’s mother back in December questioned Ciota’s motivation in the shooting.
“This mistake of a human being, because he had a badge and a gun, felt like he had every right to pull a weapon on my child,” Psychesia Hart, who is a security guard, told KTLA at the time. “First off, you’re security. Our job as security officers: observe and report. But don’t pull no gun on nobody and shoot them in the back. What kind of coward are you?”
The family was requesting an unspecified amount in damages.
Rest in peace, Jonathan Hart, also known as Sky Young. We hope justice is received.