UPDATED: Jan. 8, 2015: The grieving father of Kijuan Byrd, who was shot and killed by a mentally-unstable armed security guard in Miami, went viral after an investigative report dug deeper into the tragic story.
The Center of Investigative Reporting and CNN published a long form piece on yet another instance where an armed security guard/vigilante/officer shot and killed an unarmed Black man. Unfortunately, it came out that the gunman had a significant violent criminal past and record, putting a spotlight on the way in which security firms recruit armed personnel.
According to CIR, on June 1, 2012, Lukace Kendle, then 26, reported to work at a Miami strip club, Club Lexx. For unclear reasons, Kendle opened up and shot two men in the parking lot — Byrd, 29, and his best friend Michael Smathers, who is permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
Kendle, who is White, told police that one of the men shouted, “I’m gonna kill you, nigga,” while the driver, Smathers said neither he or Byrd said “a word” to Kendle. Smathers said that when they complied, opened the door and put their hands up, Kendle started firing, according to CIR.
Says the site:
“The shots came quickly – at least a dozen, according to an autopsy report and statements Kendle later made to police. In total, Kendle shot Byrd eight times – at least four times in the back – as he crawled toward safety underneath the truck, according to the autopsy report. Kendle told police he thought both men were armed.
One week after the shooting police arrested Kendle on murder and attempted murder charges. He was later diagnosed with impulse control disorder, antisocial personality disorder, unspecified schizophrenia spectrum, alcohol use disorder, specified personality disorder with antisocial and narcissistic features, and what court psychiatrists described as an “other psychotic disorder,” reports CIJ.
Like the tragedy of the Tamir Rice case, in which the officer involved in the shooting clearly was mentally unstable and had documented mental health issues, Kendle was given a job in which he was allowed to carry and use a deadly firearm, even with a criminal record and clear psychiatric issues (in most states armed guards do not need a psych evaluation).
Understandably, the killing infuriated the Byrd family. During an April 4, 2014, court hearing, Byrd’s father, Donald, became enraged. The distraught father yelled out and had to be removed form the courtroom:
“You murdered my son, man, for nothing! He was trying to get away from you. You, you – he was trying to get away from you, man. You kept shooting him while his back was under the truck. You kept shooting him, man. You kept shooting him in his back! … He was trying to get away from you, and you murdered him, man!”
Lukace Shane Kendle, the security guard that shot 29-year-old Kijuan Byrd dead outside of Club Lexx strip club in Miami, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder, the Miami Herald reports.
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The arrest comes after Byrd’s family, who is represented by Trayvon Martin’s family attorney Benjamin Crump, held a press conference complaining that the Miami-Dade Police Department was too slow in pursuing charges against Kendle. NewsOne reported on Friday that Byrd and his friend, Michael Smathers, were shot outside of the strip club on June 1, leaving Byrd dead and Smathers in critical condition.
Here are the full details of what happened on the night Kendle shot and killed Byrd, according to police: Around 10:45 p.m., Kendle arrived in the parking lot of Club Lexx, parked his Chevrolet Avalanche and “grabbed his security gear, which included a semiautomatic gun, a nightstick, a badge and a flashlight.”
He noticed Byrd and Smathers inside of a Ford F-150 in a nearby parking space rolling up marijuana cigarettes. Kendle says she first decided to join co-workers across the parking lot, but turned back to retrieve something from his truck. As approached his truck, Kendle says he saw the Ford’s doors swing open and then heard someone shout, “I’m going to kill that n—–.”
Kendle says as Smather’s was exiting the vehicle, he “might have been pulling something ‘upwards.’ ’’ Kendle never saw a weapon, but says he feared for his life. He then pulled out his gun and shot Smathers four times. Kendle then focused on Byrd. He told the cops that he shot in Byrd’s direction once because he felt his life was in danger. Byrd had crawled under the vehicle at this point.
Here is how the rest of the fatal night went down:
In the warrant, Kendle said he could not see Byrd’s hand, but still fired anyway because he was still “in fear for his life.”Byrd and Smathers were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, where Byrd later died. An autopsy later revealed that Byrd was shot 11 times. Smathers was still hospitalized Friday in critical condition.
The public was outraged over the details of the case. Not to mention that Kendle was still a free man after shooting two unarmed men, leaving one dead and the other fighting for his life.
Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Detective Aida Fina-Milian said the police needed the time so that the case could be handled correctly.
“It’s important to conduct a thorough investigation,” she said.
Crump, the Byrd’s family attorney, feels that it took more than a week for an arrest to be made because Kendle was using Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law” as his defense. He says the law makes no sense.
“It sends the message that you can shoot people and not be held accountable,” Crump said. “We have to seriously revise this.”