The death of Trayford Pellerin in an officer-involved shooting is being investigated amid protests and outcries from grieving family members.
On Friday, Lafayette Police Department responded to a “disturbance involving a person armed with a knife at a convenience store,” the Louisiana State Police (whose Bureau of Investigations is looking into the killing as part of an ongoing investigation) said in a statement on Saturday.
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Trayford Pellerin, 31, was in the store’s parking lot, according to authorities, and when officers “attempted to apprehend Pellerin, he fled the scene and a foot pursuit ensued.” While pursuing Pellerin, officers used tasers, which officers said were “ineffective.”
State police claim Pellerin was “still armed with a knife” when he tried to enter a nearby gas station convenience store when officers “discharged their weapons and he was struck by gunfire.”
Pellerin was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. No officers were injured in the incident, which was captured on video.
Peaceful protests in response to the killing of Pellerin turned contentious as law enforcement used smoke canisters on demonstrators, according to the Associated Press, which also reported that Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber said authorities “do support people’s First Amendment rights, however, when it comes to the destruction of property, we are not going to have Lafayette set on fire.”
A makeshift memorial lies on the ground at a Shell station, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, in Lafayette, La., for Trayford Pellerin.
Brad Kemp/The Advocate via AP
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Choicey Pellerin, Trayford’s aunt, told USA Today that her nephew enjoyed spending quality time with family. She also remembered Trayford as having a “big heart.”
“He loved to cook for me,” she said. “He did get a chance to live with me for about a year, and every day when I got off from work I had a home-cooked meal.”
Choicey added: “He was very quiet. He had a big heart. He would give you the shirt off his back. He was just an overall great kid. He didn’t deserve this.”
Officers involved in the incident were put on administrative leave, USA Today reported. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who also represents the family of George Floyd, told the outlet: “His family believes that he was suffering a mental illness crisis and what he needed was a helping hand. But what he got was what looks like 11 bullets.”
“Once again, video footage has captured a horrific and deadly incident of police violence against a Black person who was brutally killed in front of our eyes,” Alanah Odoms Hebert, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said in a statement on Saturday. “While we need to know much more about what occurred last night, we know that it began with a routine ‘disturbance’ call and cell phone video from the scene clearly shows Mr. Pellerin moving away — not towards — police officers, only to be tased and then brutally shot dead.”
Hebert added: “None of our communities are safe when the police can murder people with impunity or when routine encounters escalate into deadly shooting sprees.”