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Walgreens Security Guard Fatally Shoots Young Black Man, Charged With Murder

Donald Vincent Ciota II shot 21-year-old Jonathan Hart in the back as he ran away.

Jonathan Hart

A Black, gay young man, who happened to be homeless, was shot and killed by a security guard inside of a Walgreens in Hollywood, Calif., on Dec. 2.


Jonathan Hart, who had been shopping earlier in the evening at the same Walgreens, was accused of shoplifting from the national retail drugstore by security guard, Donald Vincent Ciota II. There had been an earlier confrontation with the same security guard. The last incident lead to a physical altercation. Ciota pulled out his gun as Hart ran away and shot him. The bullet struck him in the neck, killing the young man.

Murder Suspect David Ciota II at his arraignment.

Ciota was later arrested and charged with one count of murder, according to prosecutors. He faces up to 50 years in prison and is being held on $3 million bail.

Hart family attorney, Carl Douglas, issued a statement, on behalf of the distraught family:

"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 Jonathan Hart. A homeless, gay, Black man whose life was tragically taken far too soon."

The Hart family plans to file a $525 million lawsuit against Walgreens. Douglas is also calling for a boycott against the chain until all armed security guards are removed from its stores.

A spokesperson for Walgreens issued a statement regarding Ciota's employment status, and the status of the security firm, which employed him:

"We have cooperated with authorities and will continue to support their prosecution of this case," the statement read. "We are fully committed to providing a safe environment for our employees, patients and customers in the communities we serve."

If safety was a concern for the drugstore, why are armed guards necessary? Why wasn't the police called on Hart? It is not the job of a security guard to use deadly force to stop someone who isn't a threat.

Walgreens' executive leadership isn't particularly diverse. It is made up of an all-white, predominantly male team.

The Conversation (5)
Evelyn Miller04 Jan, 2019

I can't speak for anyone else but I am sick and tired of the trite apologies handed out by these White executives in a weak effort to save face for themselves and the companies they serve. From my perspective, yet another Black man is dead at the hands of a robo-cop who played judge, jury and executioner and no weak-ass apology is going to change that. I hope the former robo-cop gets 50 years in prison plus 50 more. I hope the judge shows him as much mercy as he showed Mr. Hart - none.

Beverly03 Jan, 2019

I don't shop Walgreens.

votetocorrect03 Jan, 2019

Shoot someone in the back and kill them over a few store items that are an annual part of programed loss? He needs to spend the rest of his life in prison!

Cassie03 Jan, 2019

And..... the whole culture that justifies shooting someone who is running away - needs to be drastically challenged. The model of training safety personnel on use of weapons, ignores the various lives of people that they will use them on. By its nature, it focuses on what to shoot - minimal mention as an aside, of what NOT to shoot. Unless the person running away has a weapon aimed directly at a bystander, there is no reason to work to end the difficulty instantly. Let him go. For any minor crime: if that is his lifestyle, he will be back. Get social services to find him and work with him. The rush to haste leaves bully "heros" and suffering, lost people ignored.

Dawn09 Jan, 2019

Long ago when I worked in retail, we were trained that in the event of a robbery, we should cooperate fully with the robber, no amount of money is worth killing or getting killed. I just cannot understand why anyone would shoot someone who is running away. That security guard tragically ended a life, and ruined his own for what?

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