LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A representative of the estate for the 31-year-old man who was shot and killed during the attempted robbery of a Lufkin Dollar General store in November of 2017 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the store's owner and the suspect.
The lawsuit is seeking more than $1 million in monetary relief that includes damages, penalties, costs expenses, pre-judgment interest, and attorney's fees.
East Texas News obtained a copy of the petition, which was filed with the Angelina County District Clerk's Office on Jan. 19. It lists John House, a representative for Darrence Kindle's estate as the plaintiff. It also lists Austin-based Dolgencorp of Texas, Inc., the owner of the Dollar General Store located at 1401 Kurth Drive in Lufkin and "John Doe," the murder suspect, as the defendants.
"The lawsuit was filed not for money or anything or for personal gain. It was filed to hold the dollar store liable for what they didn't do," House said.
House said he hopes filing the suit will bring about a change in the store's safety measures.
"We're not going to be able to stop all crime and I'm not trying to stop it, but I just felt like the dollar store, Dollar General, didn't do anything," House said. "They just open the doors, let people walk in and out and had no security, and I feel like there should be more of a deterrent to this."
Kindle, of Lufkin, was a regular customer at the Dollar General store, and he was at the store on Nov. 3, 2017, when the attempted robbery occurred shortly before 10 p.m. According to a previous East Texas News story, Kindle was standing at the checkout when the suspect entered the store, waved a handgun, and demanded money.
A spokesperson for the Lufkin Police Department said that surveillance video from the store shows that the suspect walked behind Kindle, who looked over his shoulder to glance at the suspect and then looked over again. At that point, the suspect shot Kindle at close range.
According to the Lufkin Police Department, the shooting incident occurred within 4 seconds of the suspect entering the store.
The video goes on to show the suspect continuing to demand money, followed by him placing a shopping cart at the entrance to keep the automatic doors from shutting.
The video also shows the suspect rummaging through Kindle's pockets, before fleeing the store on foot into a wooded area located toward Loop 287. It is unknown if the suspect took anything from Kindle. He did not get any money from the store.
When officers arrived, Kindle had a weak pulse and was taken by ambulance to CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial Lufkin. Shortly after arriving, he was pronounced dead.
Kindle's death affected many, including Lufkin City Councilman Robert Shankle, who later found out that he lived down the street from Kindle's family.
The suspect is described as a young, slender, light-complected black male, roughly 5'10, wearing a dark-colored hoodie, light-colored basketball shorts, red shoes and a neon green Halloween mask.
The lawsuit's petition argues that the company that owns the Dollar General on Kurth Drive was negligent and that its negligence
Defendant Dollar General knew or should have known of the unreasonably dangerous condition of the premises from the frequent and violent criminal activity in the area," the lawsuit's petition states. "Defendant Dollar General knew or should have known there was a foreseeable danger of violent and/or shooting-related crime on the premises."
The lawsuit also argues that the owner of the Dollar General store failed to provide adequate security on the store's premises, "thereby creating and/or abetting a dangerous condition on defendant's premises." Its petition also claims that the company failed to take reasonable action to prevent "a foreseeable and unreasonable risk of harm to the plaintiff and others."
In addition, the lawsuit's petition argues that the company failed to take reasonable security measures to deter robberies and failed to use adequate trained security personnel.
The lawsuit also listed damages, including House's mental anguish, grief, and bereavement, the loss of companionship and love, and the physical pain and mental anguish Kindle suffered before he died.
In the lawsuit, Frank J. Wathen, the attorney for Kindle's estate, requested a jury trial.
Here is the full text of the lawsuit's petition.