A man was shot and killed by a Walgreens security guard for being black and gay, the man’s sister has claimed.
Jonathan Hart was shot in the back of his neck and killed in December 2018.
Armed guard Donald Vincent Ciota II suspected Hart of shoplifting.
However, Hart’s sister Psykssyanna believes her brother was a victim of racism and homophobia.
A suit filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court states Hart was ‘maliciously, wrongfully, internationally, negligently and/or carelessly’ shot and killed.
Ciota, Walgreens and two security companies are named in the suit.
What allegedly happened in that Walgreens store
Ciota, 28, allegedly confronted Hart and two of his friends inside the Hollywood, California store.
It is also alleged Ciota thought Hart was stealing.
The two men then got into a physical fight. Ciota then allegedly pulled out a gun and shot Hart as he fled.
Carl Douglas, an attorney for the man’s family, said Hart, who was in his early 20s, gay and homeless, was hit in the neck and died hours later at the hospital.
The complaint denies Hart was shoplifting. It also accuses Ciota of targeting Hart because of his race and sexual orientation.
According to the lawsuit, Hart and his friends had allegedly complained to a Walgreens employee. Apparently, prior to the shooting Ciota was acting in a ‘aggressive and hostile manner’.
Ciota, who had a Taser and a gun, allegedly grabbed his weapon, yelled ‘freeze’ and then fired a shot, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states: ‘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.’
Charged with one count of murder
Ciota was charged in January with one count of murder.
In response, he pleaded not guilty during a court appearance.
Records, according to NBC, show Ciota is being held at a Los Angeles jail on $3 million bail.
Walgreens said any suggestion customers are racially profiled is ‘false and contrary to our deep commitment to inclusive diversity’.
The company added: ‘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.’