Pellerin’s death prompted crowds of protesters to rally on Saturday and protest the latest fatal police shooting. Officers in riot gear fired rounds of smoke on Saturday night to dispel the crowd, Private Derek Senegal said. No tear gas was deployed, he said.
On Friday evening, Lafayette officers followed Pellerin, 31, on foot as he left a convenience store where he had created trouble with a knife, Louisiana state police said. Stun guns failed to stop him and police shot Pellerin as he attempted to enter another convenience store, still with the knife, according to a press release.
Pellerin became anxious in groups and may have been scared off by officers, Michelle Pellerin told The Advocate. He had sought professional help earlier this year, she said.
“Instead of giving him a hand, they gave him bullets,” national civil rights lawyer Ben Crump told the newspaper. He and Baton Rouge attorney Ronald Haley said they started their own investigation by interviewing witnesses. Some said Pellerin was unarmed, Haley said.
The family believe Pellerin may have had a mental health crisis, Crump said.
Lafayette Police have asked state police to investigate – standard procedure in the state for shootings by local officers.
“The Lafayette police fired at Mr. Pellerin several times as he was walking away from them,” Margaret Huang, chief executive officer of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in an emailed statement. “His assassination requires an analysis of the excessive use of force by the police. We fully support the calls of the leaders of the movement for a swift and transparent investigation into the assassination of Mr. Pellerin. ”
ACLU Executive Director Alanah Odoms Hebert said: “Once again video footage has captured a gruesome and deadly incident of police violence against a black person who was brutally killed in front of our eyes. ”
Captured on video, the May 25 death of George Floyd below the knee of a white Minneapolis cop has sparked a worldwide toll of police tactics and racial injustice.
“Trayford Pellerin should be alive today. Instead, a family is grieving and a community is grieving, ”the statement said. “None of our communities are safe when police can murder people with impunity or when routine clashes escalate into deadly shootings. ”
Rikasha Montgomery, who took video of the shooting, told The Advertiser that a man holding what looked like a knife continued to walk on the freeway as police fired stun guns at him. Officers with rifles shouted at him to get to the ground, said Montgomery, 18.
She said they fired when the man reached the door of a Shell gas station.
“When I heard the gunshots, I couldn’t hold my phone like I did on the first shoot,” she said. “I’m a little scared about this. I am traumatised. You are so used to hearing this, but I never thought I would experience it.
Crump, representing Pellerin’s family, called the shooting reckless and his death tragic.
“The officers involved should be terminated immediately for their heinous and fatal actions,” Crump said in a statement on Saturday.
The incident was the third Lafayette police shootout since mid-July. State police said a man was seriously injured last month after being shot during an altercation with police. Another man was in stable condition after being shot during a burglary investigation earlier this month.
Haley told The Advocate that he and Crump would seek reforms and policy changes within the police department, as well as damages.
“We also want policy changes, so Ben and I aren’t in the living room with another family in Lafayette taking care of this,” Haley said.