The family of Darius Augustus, the Baton Rouge teenager killed by a stray bullet last October while standing on the downtown Mississippi River levee, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the Police Department.
Augustus’ father and legal custodians contend a lack of adequate security and law enforcement in the crowded area “substantially contributed’’ to the 17-year-old’s death.
Sgt. Don Stone, a police spokesman, and Parish Attorney Mary Roper said Wednesday they could not comment on the pending litigation.
Police investigators have said Augustus, who had just left the 13th Gate haunted house, was an innocent bystander, shot in the chest while trying to flee gunfire that erupted in a large crowd on Oct. 2, 2010.
At least three groups of people were on the levee that night, police said. One group fired several shots into the air, and a second group who thought they were being targeted fired back.
Augustus, his cousins and friends were in a third group and were not involved, police stated.
No arrests have been made in the shooting.
The suit was filed Monday in Baton Rouge state court by Augustus’ biological father, Regmond Ridgley, and Rhonda and Felton Billoups, who shared custody of Augustus with his biological parents.
Rhonda Billoups on Wednesday declined comment on the suit.
It has been assigned to state District Judge Todd Hernandez.
Augustus was standing near the flagpoles on the levee in the 200 block of South River Road near the USS Kidd and across the street from the River Center when gunfire erupted at 10:52 p.m., police have said.
Augustus’ shooting is the second shooting involving innocent bystanders on the levee since July 4, 2007, when Robert Blunschi, 21 at the time, and Kayla Smith, 16 at the time, were wounded in a shooting during the Fourth of July celebration.
That incident occurred while thousands of people were leaving the fireworks show at the Mississippi River levee at the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial and Museum.
A bullet struck Smith, causing serious damage to her spine. Blunschi was shot in the head and suffered brain damage.
Smith’s parents are suing the city-parish, state and others. They also allege inadequate security.