A security guard at a Hollywood Walgreens who allegedly shot to death a homeless man is facing murder charges, and the family of the victim is now suing the company.
In court Monday, noted criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos, whose clients have included Michael Jackson and Chris Brown, asked a judge to postpone an arraignment until Thursday for his current client, 28-year-old Donald Ciota, who’s charged with second-degree murder.
The judge agreed to postpone Ciota’s arraignment to give the defense time to get hold of Walgreens security footage, so that Geragos and the judge can witness the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Jonathan Hart.
On Dec. 2, Ciota was working as a security guard at a Walgreens pharmacy in Hollywood when, according to prosecutors, he got into a fight with Hart, a homeless man who was suspected of shoplifting.
Prosecutors said Ciota shot Hart in the back as he ran away.
Geragos said he believes the security footage will exonerate his client.
“I want the judge to see the videotape,” Geragos said. “Based on the reports, based on everything that happened, I will tell you right now there’s no way in the world this should be a murder case.”
Carl Douglas, a legal heavyweight who was a member of O.J. Simpson’s legal team, is representing Hart’s family in a $525 million lawsuit against Walgreens.
“The death of Jonathan Hart has left blood on the hands of executives of Walgreens as well,” Douglas said.
Douglas said Hart was a victim of profiling.
“Why we believe Jonathan Hart was profiled: because he was homeless. Why he was harassed: because he was gay. And why we think he was shot: because he was black,” Douglas said.
Geragos takes issue with those allegations.
“This is probably emblematic of what I see wrong in the culture right now, is because somebody comes out and makes a statement and invokes race, or invokes gender or invokes sexual preference, that we lose sight of what the law is,” he said.
Walgreens confirms that the security guard involved in the shooting has been fired, and says the company is cooperating fully with authorities.