Prospect Park


Activist Attorney Lights Himself On Fire, Commits Suicide In Prospect Park

April 15, 2018 - 11:26 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- A hard-charging activist lawyer lit himself on fire and committed suicide in Prospect Park this weekend.

As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, the attorney apparently did it as a form of protest.

The body of David Buckel, 60, was found by people walking through Prospect Park early on Saturday morning as they were trying to take in the burst of warm weather.

It was a gruesome scene, with Buckel’s burned and charred body laid out on the green park grass.

Buckel left behind a suicide note and also emailed a copy to the New York Times, saying he chose to kill himself by fire because most humans now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels -- and he wanted his death to reflect that.

Buckel was a leading attorney in the field of LGBTQ rights. At one point, he was the marriage project director for gay rights group Lambda Legal.

In a statement, Lambda Legal called Buckel a movement leader and a brilliant legal visionary.

Camilla Taylor is the acting legal director at Lambda Legal and worked with Buckel for six years.

“I think most of us who knew him are still in shock,” Taylor said. “This is obviously a huge loss. We are thinking of his family.”

Buckel was also famously was the lead attorney in the case of Brandon Teena, the transgender man murdered in Nebraska who was portrayed by Hillary Swank in the movie “Boys Don’t Cry.”