Black Man Killed by Police in Louisiana Did Not Have Knife, Lawsuit Says

October 28, 2020

The parents of a man killed by police in Louisiana is suing the Lafayette Police Department, saying their son did not have a knife when he was killed.

Trayford Pellerin, 31, was killed Aug. 21 as he walked away from a convenience store in Lafayette. Police said the Black man was trying to go into another store while still holding the knife when officers shot him.

In a federal lawsuit, Pellerin’s family said the only knife seen in body camera footage and photographs after the shooting shown to them is one used to cut Pellerin’s clothing to give him first aid after he was shot.

The footage also fails to show officers attempt to use other methods to stop Pellerin before shooting him, according to the lawsuit.

“You never see him physically engaging with any police officer at all,” said Ron Haley, a lawyer representing the Pellerin family told The Acadiana Advocate. “He does not make a threat to any officer or any person. You clearly can see that.”

A private autopsy released by Pellerin’s family determined he was shot 10 times.

The body camera footage shown to the family was from the first officer to respond to two calls from different stores about a suspicious man with a knife, according to the lawsuit.

Pellerin first talks to the officer with his hands in the air, then walks away, with the officer following for six minutes on the footage.

Officers said they tried to stun Pellerin with a Taser, but the footage shows the first officer missing with the barbs of the stun gun before the shooting.

The lawsuit said three officers shot at Pellerin.

His family suggested Pellerin was having a mental health crisis and likely was tuning out the officers. They said the only evidence he had a knife came from several calls to police suggesting he had one.

Pellerin’s shooting was also captured on private video, and that footage prompted several days of protests.

The city didn’t respond to questions about the lawsuit.

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