LPD Interim Police Chief Scott Morgan said the investigation was immediately handed over to the Louisiana State Police during a press conference held the night of the shooting: “We don’t know how many officers were involved at this point, we don’t interview the witnesses – we are turning that information over to the Louisiana state police,” he said. “So we are going to have an unbiased investigation by an independent department.”
Pellerin was fatally shot by officers from the Lafayette Police Department on August 21 when he refused to stop walking toward a convenience store armed with a knife, according to a Louisiana State Troop I news release.
Please be advised this story contains some video images that may be disturbing to watch.
Pellerin Was Tased Before He Was Shot, Police Said
According to the Louisiana State Police’s Troop I news release, officers were called to a convenience store along Northeast Evangeline Throughway regarding a “disturbance” involving someone armed with a knife at around 8 p.m. When police arrived, Pellerin was in the convenience store parking lot. The release says that Pellerin “fled the scene” when officers “attempted to apprehend” him, leading to a chase on foot.
Police tried tasing Pellerin, who had begun walking toward another convenience store, but the tasers were “ineffective.” Officers then shot at him. “Officers discharged their weapons and he was struck by gunfire. Pellerin was transported to an area hospital where he was later pronounced dead,” the statement read.
The second convenience store where Pellerin was shot was later confirmed as a Shell gas station on Northwest Frontage Road and Chalmette Drive, according to The Advocate.
The statement said that no officers were injured and the investigation remains active and ongoing. The officers involved in the shooting have since been placed on paid administrative leave, the Advertiser reported.
Eyewitness Statements Recorded on the Bystander’s Video Match Details From the Louisiana State Police’s News Release
The Daily Advertiser reported that 18-year-old Lafayette resident Rickasha Montgomery filmed the incident, which has left her traumatized.
“When I heard the gunshots, I couldn’t hold my phone like I was first filming,” she told the Advertiser. “I feel kind of scared about it. I’m traumatized. You’re so used to hearing about this, but I never thought I would experience it.”
The video was quickly shared around social media.
Much of what the eyewitnesses were saying during the bystander video matches the information in the news release. For example, they said that Pellerin was moving toward the convenience store with a knife, even though he was being told to stop.
“They about to bust him,” a male voice said.
Then, a woman’s voice: “He got a knife, though … That man got a knife.”
“They’re going to shoot him,” a second person’s voice interjects.
“They gots to wait, they gots to wait,” someone else remarks.
“No, but he got a f***ing knife! Get on the ground,” the woman said, adding “They tasing him and he not even doing nothing.”
Then multiple officers are seen approaching him with guns drawn before at least ten shots rang out over the screams from people recording the incident. “Oh my God,” the woman says repeatedly. “They just killed this man in front of me.”
The ACLU Has Called the Shooting ‘an Inappropriate and Excessive Use of Force’
The ACLU of Louisiana released a statement on August 22 condemning the shooting and noting, “fatal shootings by police in Louisiana have continued unabated despite the pandemic.” Here are more remarks from their statement:
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,” said Alanah Odoms Hebert, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “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. Trayford Pellerin should be alive today. Instead, a family is mourning and a community is grieving.”
“Mr. Pellerin’s family and the people of Lafayette deserve answers and an independent investigation of what was clearly an inappropriate and excessive use of force by these officers. None of our communities are safe when the police can murder people with impunity or when routine encounters escalate into deadly shooting sprees. The ACLU of Louisiana will continue to demand justice for this brutal killing and push for reforms that will end the epidemic of police violence once and for all.”
The president of Lafayette’s NAACP, Marja Broussard, said that she didn’t understand why police were unable to defuse the situation sooner, according to The Advocate.
“How much time did they have to defuse it? … How much time did they have to do something other than shoot?” she asked. “I think that so much more could have been done.”
The Advocate reported that community organizers have planned a 5 p.m. rally for August 22 at the Shell station where Pellerin was shot.