Security Guard Charged With Murder in Hollywood Walgreens Shooting

Prosecutors say Jonathan Hart, 21, was shot in the back at the Hollywood and Vine store as he ran away

A security guard was charged with murder Monday in the shooting death of a homeless man he suspected of shoplifting at a Walgreens in Hollywood.

Donald Vincent Ciota II, of Covina, faces one count of murder with an allegation that he used a firearm as a deadly and dangerous weapon. The Dec. 2 shooting occurred during a confrontation with 21-year-old Jonathan Hart inside the Sunset and Vine store. 

Ciota is accused of fatally shooting Hart in the back as he ran away, according to a statement from prosecutors.

Bond was set at $3 million. Ciota faces up to life in state prison, if convicted.

Ciota is represented by famed attorney Mark Geragos, who is known for representing celebrities like Michael Jackson and Winona Ryder. No plea was entered Monday, and the arraignment was moved to Thursday.

Geragos requested a video of the shooting, and was also asking the judge to view it Thursday. Ciota's family members were in court Monday.

"There is no way in the world this should be a murder case," Geragos said outside of court. 

Video from the moments following the shooting was recorded by a man who entered the store with Hart. It showed the security guard making a phone call while standing over Hart's body. Red wine from shattered bottles can be seen on the floor.

At a Dec. 11 news conference, attorney Carl Douglas announced that he is filing a lawsuit on behalf of Hart's family. Douglas said Hart was not shoplifting, but the two had argued over an item priced at $2.99. 

Douglas, a member of OJ Simpson's defense team in the former USC and NFL star's 1995 murder trial, alleged that Hart, also known as Sky Young, was targeted because he was black and gay. 

Douglas called the murder charge a "courageous" and highly unusual decision. He said he has not seen the video referenced by Geragos in court.

"We are heartened that justice will be on the way," Douglas said Monday after the district attorney announced the charge.

Walgreens issued a statement in which it said the company "extended our deepest and most sincere condolences" to Hart's family, and noted that as a result of the shooting, "immediately terminated the security company."

"We are committed to providing a safe environment for our employees, patients and customers in the communities we serve," the statement continued. 

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