Jace Boyd, 24, who fatally shot a 61-year-old homeless Black man outside of a Trader Joe’s over the weekend faces second-degree murder charges. On Tuesday Baton Rouge police issued an arrest warrant for Boyd, the accused shooter, after days of mounting public pressure.
On Saturday night, disabled man Danny Buckley was panhandling outside of a Trader Joe’s grocery store. A witness identified as “Kaylee” said that after she walked past Buckley with her roommate, she heard Boyd telling him to leave the two women alone. Next, she heard gunfire.
A police report says that after officers arrived on scene, Boyd told them he had shot Buckley. The victim was transported to a hospital where he died. After questioning him, officers released Boyd without charging him, pending an investigation. The East Baton Rouge Parish coroner said Buckley died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Officers initially claimed Buckley was “aggressively harassing customers,” before he was shot although they did not offer further details about his supposedly disruptive behavior.
Police spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola said earlier this week this week that the shooting was precipitated by an “altercation” and “the victim’s background remains part of this ongoing investigation.”
In her statements, Kaylee said she did not feel threatened by Buckley.
“Yes, he did ask for money. Yes, maybe he did come a little into my space to speak to me, but that’s not a death sentence,” she said on Twitter. She also said she was initially turned away after trying to give police her account of the incident.
Baton Rouge police did not issue an arrest warrant for Boyd until three days of public outcry had gone by. It also took a meeting between the victim’s family’s attorneys and detectives for a warrant to be issued. In addition to the second-degree murder charge, Boyd has also been charged with illegal use of a weapon.
A source reported earlier this week that some believe Boyd may have fired the weapon in self-defense, but Buckley’s family’s attorney said it’s “impossible” that Boyd was in fear of his life at the time of the shooting.
Buckley’s family said the 61-year old was unarmed and suffered from painful pre-existing conditions that made it difficult for him to be physically mobile, and was known by many in the community.
Ryan Thompson, one of the family’s attorneys, compared Buckley’s death to that of Emmett Till.
“In the South, in America, it is known that you do not talk to white women if you’re a Black male,” he said. “That was his crime.”
Attorneys also said that Boyd’s Facebook profile, which has since been either made private or deleted, regularly shared Confederate imagery.
“It’s the position of the family that Mr. Buckley was the victim of a hate crime,” Thompson added.
Sharon Weston Broome,mayor-president of Baton Rouge, said on Twitter that she was “concerned” about the shooting, and called on the police chief to conduct a “fair and transparent review.”