Florida security guard admits killing unarmed black man: ‘I was arrested because of George Zimmerman’
A Miami security guard blamed George Zimmerman for his arrest after gunning down a black man and paralyzing another during a shooting in a strip club parking lot.
Lukace Kendle, who is acting as his own attorney, was charged with murder in the June 1, 2012, shooting death of Kijuan Byrd outside Club Lexx in North Miami-Dade, reported the Miami Herald.
The 29-year-old Kendle, who has been declared mentally incompetent twice before the trial, insisted on representing himself after being rehabilitated — but the judge has warned him against citing the Zimmerman case.
“The reason the evidence was fabricated is because I’m white,” Kendle told jurors.
“The subjects I shot were African-American, I can prove that,” he continued. “What they’re not allowing me to tell you is that I was arrested because of the George Zimmerman shooting.”
Like Zimmerman, the volunteer neighborhood watchman who was acquitted in the Feb, 26, 2012, shooting death of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, the Homestead man is claiming self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
Kendle is also accused of wounding Michael Smathers, who remains paralyzed, after spotting him smoking a joint with Byrd in a pickup as the security guard began his 11 p.m. shift.
“On the job they call me Juice,” Kendle told jurors, later describing himself as a “bouncer with a gun.”
Prosecutors said Kendle pulled his car into the spot next to Smathers’ Ford F-150 and began pulling on his all-black uniform, vest, baton, gloves, knife, ammunition and gun, prosecutors said.
At that point, some type of confrontation took place between the two black men and the security guard — who police said unleashed a torrent of bullets.
Byrd was shot multiple times in the back as he tried to crawl underneath the pickup to shield himself from the gunfire.
Kendle told jurors he would not testify on his own behalf, but in opening statements he described Byrd and Smathers as “forward aggressors.”
“They forced me to survive,” Kendle said. “I’m paid to protect. Having no duty to retreat, I stood my ground.”
Kendle paced “frenetically” during his opening statements, the newspaper reported, wore a device intended to deliver a shock if he turned violent in court.
The security guard was arrested a week later in the fatal shooting, which was recorded on surveillance video.
Byrd’s relatives have called for lawmakers to pass legislation to improve training and implement mental-health evaluations for security guards.
The case prompted a yearlong investigation by CNN and The Center for Investigative Reporting that turned up no federal training standards for armed guards and no national database to record how many of them shoot or misuse their firearms.
Watch Byrd’s father confront Kendle in court during a previous hearing: