The family of 21-year-old Jonathan Hart, who was shot in the back after allegedly shoplifting at a Walgreens at Sunset and Vine in Los Angeles on December 2, has filed a $525 million lawsuit against the company, saying the store’s security guard discriminated against Hart, who was unarmed, because he was black and gay, and responded with much greater force.
Patch reports: ‘An at emotional news conference, attorney Carl Douglas said Walgreens only has armed security guards at four stores in the Los Angeles area. “Each of these stores are in the black, brown and homeless and LGBT communities, and we want to know why,” Douglas said on behalf of Hart’s family.
Walgreens released a statement: “[We have] extended our deepest and most sincere condolences [to the Hart family]. [As a result of the shooting] we immediately terminated the security company. We are committed to providing a safe environment for our employees, patients and customers in the communities we serve. We contract for armed and unarmed security, as well as video surveillance, in our stores based on the 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. We firmly believe everyone should be welcomed and treated equally in all of our stores.”
Douglas insisted Hart was not shoplifting but said that “Hart and another black man were in the store, and at one point while inside the store, one of them picked up a $2.99 water flavoring product. The guard confronted the men and got into an argument with Hart.”
Douglas added: “The guard feels the man push him one time. The guard pushes the man back one time. The guard watches as the man turns to run toward the back door. The guard raises his gun and points at the man. The guard says, `Freeze,’ as the man travels toward the door. The guard fires one shot, striking the man in the back of the neck. The guard watches as the man crumbles to the ground.”
CBS News reported on yesterday’s news conference, but omitted any reference to Douglas’s charges that Hart was targeted because he was gay:
The L.A. Times reports: ‘Family attorney Carl Douglas also called on Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey to file manslaughter charges against the guard who shot and killed Jonathan Hart on Dec. 2. … “Walgreens, the blood of Jonathan Hart is on your hands,” said Douglas, who called for a boycott of the company. The lawyer said Hart was profiled, harassed and ultimately shot because he was a homeless, gay, black man.’
Added Douglas: “Jonathan Hart was profiled because he was homeless. He was harassed because he was gay. And he was shot, because he was black.”