The family of a 21-year-old man shot and killed by a Walgreens security guard earlier this month in Hollywood will seek $525 million in a wrongful-death suit planned against the company, an attorney said Tuesday.
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.
Douglas said Hart got into a verbal confrontation with the security guard in the store and the two pushed each other before Hart tried to leave. That’s when the security guard yelled for Hart to freeze and then shot and killed him, the lawyer said.
Hart died from a gunshot wound to the neck, according to a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
Douglas said Hart was unarmed and was not shoplifting. Detectives told family members that Hart had a California ID card in his hand at the time of his death.
Hart had gotten in a confrontation earlier that night with the same security guard and spoke with the store manager before continuing to shop, the lawyer said.
The Los Angeles Police Department did not arrest the security guard after the fatal shooting, said Officer Drake Madison, a police spokesman.
The case is being reviewed by the district attorney’s office, spokesman Paul Eakins said.
Douglas, who was joined by Hart’s family and friends at a news conference Tuesday, questioned why Walgreens stationed an armed guard at the store at Vine Street and Sunset Boulevard.
“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.
A company spokesman said Walgreens has fired the security firm that worked at the store and is cooperating with police.
“We are committed to providing a safe environment for our employees, patients and customers in the communities we serve,” spokesman Phil Caruso said. “We contract for armed and unarmed security, as well as video surveillance, in our stores based on the public safety needs of each location.”
The company believes “everyone should be welcomed and treated equally in all of our stores,” Caruso added.
At a candlelight vigil Saturday night in front of the Hollywood store, several dozen family members and friends remembered Hart as an aspiring model who contributed to fashion blogs and wanted to be a hair and makeup stylist and make and release his own clothing line.
“He was stylish,” said Mckenzie Trahan, 23, a friend from the young Hollywood homeless community.
Other homeless youths, including several trans women, hugged and cried in front of a bank of votive candles and copies of photographs of Hart posted to the drugstore’s plate-glass window.
Signs read, “Homeless lives matter” and “Justice 4 Sky,” Hart’s street name.
Aaliyah Houghton, 23, said she was with Hart when the confrontation with the security guard started.
“He was not shoplifting,” she said, but declined to give a fuller account of the incident.
“What kills me is I have friends who shoplift. He’s too scared to shoplift and he wouldn’t lay hands on you,” said Leonard Taylor, 24, who also knew Hart from the streets. “He was sweet, always trying to help other people in the homeless situation.”
Hart’s mother and his twin sister, both named Psykyssyanna Hart, were at the memorial.
The mother, with tears running down her face, said, “Somebody cut my son’s life short, and why? This was a criminal act, and it’s being covered up from me.”
Both women said police had not spoken to them. Hart’s family declined to speak to reporters Tuesday.