HOLLYWOOD—The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced on Monday, December 31 that a security guard at a pharmacy in Hollywood has been charged with killing a man he thought was shoplifting.
Donald Vincent Ciota II, 28, of Covina faces one count of murder with an allegation that he used a firearm as a deadly and dangerous weapon. He was arraigned in court on Monday, and case BA473919 was filed for warrant on December 27.
On December 2, Ciota confronted Jonathan Hart, 21, inside the Walgreens pharmacy on Sunset and Vine where a physical altercation transpired. The suspect pulled out his firearm and is alleged to have fatally shot Hart in the back as he ran away, prosecutors noted. According to reports, Hart was homeless, and the altercation was not the result of theft, but Hart and Ciota disagreeing over the price of an item. Ciota was let go by the company after the incident. A vigil was held for Hart in December.
Hart’s family is planning to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Walgreens in the amount of $525 million. The family is being represented by attorney Carl Douglas.
“We are heartened, and indeed we are encouraged that district attorney Jackie Lacey has shown the leadership to file murder charges against Donald Vincent Ciota II, arising out of the tragic death of Jonathon Hart. A homeless, gay, black man whose life was tragically taken far too soon,” said Douglas during a press conference. “The death of Jonathan hart has left blood on the hands of executives at Walgreens as well,” said Douglas.
“We have continued our pledge to boycott Walgreens, and that’s why we’re launching a new hashtag today of #hastag of MASA. We’re going to make America safe again,” said Douglas.
Ciota is being represented by attorney Mark Geragos whose clientele list includes celebrities like Michael Jackson and Chris Brown. Video of the incident shows Ciota standing over Hart’s body, with a cellphone in hand and bottle of broken red wine on the floor of the establishment. According to reports, Geragos has requested footage from the incident noting that the shooting was not murder.
“The company has extended our deepest and most sincere condolences to Hart’s family. We contract for armed and unarmed security, as well as video surveillance, in our stores based on public safety needs of each location. We operate in thousands of communities and neighborhoods across the nation and the suggestion that we would inappropriately serve any community is simply false,” said Walgreens in a statement.
Bail was scheduled at $3 million. If convicted as charged, the Ciota faces a possible maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison. The Los Angeles Police Department is still investigating the case.