The son of an unarmed panhandler fatally shot outside Trader Joe's last summer has filed a wrongful death suit against the Baton Rouge man charged with second-degree murder in the killing.

Donell Buckley, who is seeking monetary damages, also sued several insurance companies and a security firm over the death of his father, Danny Buckley.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday claims Jace Boyd, 25, who is White, and Danny Buckley, who is Black, initially had a "brief verbal exchange" in the Trader Joe's parking lot on Aug. 22 and then Buckley walked away and proceeded to converse with two White women in their early 20s.

"Shortly thereafter, Jace Boyd became incensed, exited his vehicle, re-approached Mr. Buckley, and began an aggressive confrontation with him," the suit alleges.

Boyd armed himself with a gun, aimed it at Buckley and pulled the trigger, but the gun misfired, the suit says.

"Subsequently, Jace Boyd lowered his weapon, reloaded the gun with another bullet, repositioned himself into a shooting stance, and took aim at the hapless Danny Buckley, before pulling the trigger again — this time carrying out his intentions of fatally shooting Mr. Buckley," the suit claims.

Boyd's next scheduled appearance in criminal court is Thursday.

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

"Under Louisiana law, justice can be attained through both criminal and civil means," Ryan Thompson, one of the attorneys for the Buckley family, said Tuesday in a written statement. "The murder of Danny Buckley by Jace Boyd obligates Jace Boyd to repair the damages he caused to Mr. Buckley and Mr. Buckley's surviving son, Donell. The filing of this civil suit is necessary to further protect the legitimate interests of the Buckley family."

Boyd's attorney, J. Arthur Smith III, has said Boyd fired in self-defense.

Boyd, who also is charged with illegal use of a weapon, told detectives during an interview that he was defending himself and others from Buckley, who was "aggressively harassing customers" in the parking lot, according to a police report.

At least one witness has stated publicly that she did not feel threatened when Buckley approached her asking for money.

Boyd has remained free on $300,000 bond since a week after his Aug. 27 arrest, which followed significant public outcry. Police initially didn't detain him after he approached officers and said he had killed the man.

Attorneys for the Buckley family have claimed the shooting constituted a hate crime. The lawyers have questioned whether police would have handled the case differently if a young Black man shot an older White man in the same upscale Perkins Road shopping center.

A second-degree murder conviction would carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Buckley was a somewhat familiar figure in the area. Neighbors and store employees reported having seen him before in that same parking lot, where he would sometimes ask people for money.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.