EBR grand jury to consider nightclub shooting death

An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury will decide next month whether to indict a security guard who fatally shot a Baker man last summer in front of a Baton Rouge nightclub.

The guard was not booked in the shooting death of 32-year-old Corey A. Kaufman. Detectives determined the guard acted in self-defense after Kaufman pointed a gun at him in front of Club Sha La.

District Attorney Hillar Moore III said prosecutors, after reviewing the evidence and meeting with Kaufman’s family, elected to present the case to a grand jury July 17.

The grand jury will decide whether the guard should be charged with a crime.

“We were not initially considering a grand jury,” Moore said. “But based on (the family’s) repeated requests and some things they presented to us, we’re going to present it to a grand jury so we have a full and fair hearing before a neutral body of citizens. It’s going to be completely up to the grand jury.”

Kaufman’s family filed a lawsuit in state District Court last year claiming the security guard, whom they identified as David Lockhart, of Absolute Security, used excessive force when he fired multiple times through Kaufman’s windshield as the man was attempting to leave.

Since the shooting, the family organized a protest outside the club, collected signatures on a petition and met with local officials in an effort to move the case forward.

Kaufman’s mother, Barbara Kaufman, said her family gathered evidence in the form of witness statements and even a cellphone video of the incident.

“We know it was not self-defense,” she said. “If you would hear the tape, it would make you cry.”

Moore described the video as “worthless.”

“It does not help at all,” he said.

The shooting happened after 1 a.m. Aug. 26 outside Club Sha La on Plank Road.

Officers responding to the scene were told the guard acted in self-defense in shooting Corey Kaufman.

Police said Kaufman had been banned from the club and was escorted to his vehicle by security guards after he made “verbal threats of violence.”

Investigators concluded Kaufman then got into his vehicle, retrieved a gun and pointed it at the guard, who opened fire.

Kaufman was struck in the chest and died at the scene.

Kaufman’s family has rejected that account, saying he did carry a gun but did not point it at the guard.

Their lawsuit claims several guards surrounded his vehicle with weapons drawn, pointed at Kaufman, as he attempted to leave that night.

“It’s a death and it’s a highly charged matter on both sides,” Moore said.

“One side is saying the guard was justified in shooting because he feared for his life, while the other side is saying there’s no justification and the shooting was erroneous. It’s completely at odds with each other.”

The decision to take the case to a grand jury is somewhat uncommon, Moore added, noting no one had been previously arrested in the case.

“There’s no one thing that stands out that triggered taking it to a grand jury,” he said. “I just think that due to the nature of the case, it’s fair.”