Trayford Pellerin, 31, was shot and killed by Lafayette police on Friday night outside of a Shell gas station in Louisiana. Rickasha Montgomery, 18, recorded video footage of the shooting that has sparked nationwide protests and outrage.
The footage shows Pellerin walking away from officers down Evangeline Thruway toward the gas station. Montgomery is heard saying that the man appears to have a knife in his hand, as several officers trail him in a police car and on foot. When Pellerin reaches the entrance to the Shell multiple officers fire what were thought to be 11 shots and Pellerin drops to the ground.
“Oh my God, oh my God, of my God,” Montgomery says. “They just shot this man. They literally just killed this man in front of me.”
Louisiana State Trooper Derek Senegal said that Lafayette officers responded to a call about a man with a knife at the Circle K gas station at 8 p.m. on Aug. 21. When officers arrived, Pellerin was in the parking lot and officers failed to apprehend him using a Taser. Pellerin then began walking, with police in tow, to the nearby Shell gas station, where he was shot as he reached the doorway. He was transported to a hospital but did not survive.
The officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by the Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigation.
On Saturday night, protesters blocked traffic near a police precinct, and officers in riot gear released tear gas canisters into the crowd. Protesters also gathered outside Lafayette City Hall to demand justice for Pellerin, whose family called for peaceful demonstrations.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump is representing Pellerin’s family. “We stand with Treyford’s family in demanding justice and transparency into the reckless shooting and tragic killing of this man,” he said in a statement Saturday. “We refuse to let this case resolve like so many others: quietly and without answers and justice.”
He also said they believe Pellerin may have been suffering from a mental health crisis at the time of his death.
Michelle Pellerin spoke about the circumstances surrounding her son’s death, saying: “I’m still trying to understand what happened. Why did it have to go this far? Why him? Everybody talks about the video, but I haven’t seen it and I don’t want to see it. I can’t,” she said. She also said her son suffered from social anxiety and that he had sought out professional help for these struggles in the past.
Crump and co-counsel Ronald Haley say they are planning a lawsuit and conducting witness interviews about the shooting, and Haley also would say he spoke to an individual who claimed Pellerin did not have a knife at the time of his death.
As of Monday night, a GoFundMe for Pellerin’s family has raised nearly $14,000.