Trayford Pellerin's family, attorney frustrated by lack of charges will turn to civil action for justice
During an emotional press conference, the family of Trayford Pellerin and their attorney expressed anger and frustration after a grand jury declined to bring charges against the Lafayette police officers who fatally shot the Black man.
Attorney Ron Haley, who led the press conference, said he was frustrated after the decision was announced Tuesday afternoon.
“I was disappointed to know that we are not the exception out here in Lafayette, Louisiana,” Haley said. “We are the rule.”
Pellerin was fatally shot by Lafayette police officers who were responding to reports of a man with a knife on Aug. 21, 2020. A Lafayette grand jury declined to indict the officers on second-degree murder charges, 15th Judicial District Attorney Don Landry said. Three officers fired 11 shots in 2.4 seconds, Landry said.
During his own press conference, Landry presented surveillance video, police body camera footage and 911 tapes from the night Pellerin was shot.
Landry said he and Assistant District Attorney Alan Haney used information from the Louisiana State Police investigation into the shooting and their own investigation to present information to the grand jury.
Michelle Pellerin, Trayford Pellerin’s mother, said most of the information Landry showed to reporters was new to her.
The family was previously shown one video – the body camera footage from the first officer to respond to the scene who follows Pellerin from one gas station to another.
She said taking in the new information was “hard” and felt “not good.”
“A lot of this they could have presented to me early on. I mean, they held it back for nine months, not knowing what actually went on,” she said. “They showed one video that had nothing to do with what they showed today.”
Michelle Pellerin also thanked the community for the support it’s shown her and said she’ll “continue to ask for justice.”
Haley said he felt like Landry didn’t complete his own investigation and instead relied on Louisiana State Police’s findings. He said he didn’t think the agency could be trusted to conduct a credible investigation into the incident.
He also expressed frustration about the way police responded to initial 911 calls about Pellerin having a knife. Haley said it isn’t a crime to have a knife and that Pellerin didn’t intend to commit a crime using it.
Lafayette police shooting:Timeline of events in the death of Trayford Pellerin
When police encountered Pellerin, he “retreated,” Haley said. Pellerin ignored commands from police to come toward them, put the knife down, get on the ground and not to enter the convenience store.
“I'm tired of the excuse of failing to comply as a reason to kill black people in this country,” Haley said. “Failure to comply is a misdemeanor, not a death penalty.”
Now the Pellerin family will turn to civil action in hopes to get justice, Haley said. He’ll file a request with the Department of Justice to investigate if there were any civil rights violations. He also said a federal civil lawsuit against the police department and officers involved in the shooting, will begin moving forward again. It was delayed while the attorneys waited for the grand jury to present its findings.
Haley said community members who want to see change can push for body camera footage to be released by the police department within 72 hours of a fatal use-of-force incident and can push for an independent oversight committee that reviews those incidents.
Local activist Jamal Taylor expressed his own frustration with the grand jury’s return. He said it points to a bigger issue in Lafayette.
“Let me be clear that the city of Lafayette has an issue that it needs to reckon with with race,” he said.
And what happened today and the words from the district attorney are a testimony to a system that is rotten and devalues Black and Brown bodies.
“We will not continue to tolerate it.”
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