17.05.2022

Protests erupt in Louisiana after fatal police shooting of black man

Protesters in Louisiana have called for accountability following the fatal shooting of a black man by police, with footage showing nearly half a dozen cops following the man before firing at least 10 shots.

In a video taken by a bystander and shared widely on social media, Louisiana police officers were seen on Friday evening following a man, later identified as Trayford Pellerin, 31, who was walking away.

The man was reportedly armed with a knife.

Police officers attempted to apprehend Mr Pellerin, and the man left the scene on foot. Officers then used stun guns on the man before firing at least 10 shots at him in front of a convenience store.

Mr Pellerin was taken to a nearby hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The incident has caused a public outcry in Lafayette, with protesters and community leaders asking what else could have been done by officers to diffuse the situation prior to fatally shooting Mr Pellerin.

Louisiana’s ACLU condemned the shooting after viewing the footage of the incident, calling it a “horrific and deadly incident of police violence against a black person.” The ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center are now calling for an investigation into the shooting.

The Lafayette Police Department has since passed on the investigation into Mr Pellerin’s death to the Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigation.

The Independent contacted the department for a comment.

“Today I’m only asking for accountability. You know why? Because it was transparent what happened yesterday. It was a murder that took place,” said Ronald Haley, an attorney representing the family of Mr Pellerin.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump has also taken on the case. The Tallahassee, Florida-based lawyer has previously represented other families of black men shot by police, including Trayvon Martin. He also is currently representing the family of George Floyd, who was killed by Minnesota police in May.

“We stand with Trayford’s family in demanding justice and transparency into the reckless shooting and tragic killing of this man,” Mr Crump said in a statement Saturday. “We refuse to let this case resolve like so many others: quietly and without answers and justice.”

Protesters gathered on Saturday afternoon after the news of Mr Pellerin’s death spread in the news and on social media. People were carrying Black Lives Matter signs and chanting “hands up, don’t shoot”, a battle cry often used following the death of a black person at the hands of police.

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The protests started out peaceful but turned violent in the evening during a time across America when tensions are already high about police brutality against black Americans.

Officials said at a news conference late Saturday that fireworks had been shot at buildings and fires set in the median of a road where demonstrations had taken place.

“Our intent is not going to be to just let people disrupt our town and put our citizens and our motorists and our neighbourhoods in danger,” Interim Police Chief Scott Morgan said.

Arrests were made, but the police department was unable to provide exact numbers.

Protesters are calling for the firing and arrest of the police officers involved in the shooting of Mr Pellerin. The police officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave with pay until the investigation is finished.

The incident on Friday evening started after police were called to the scene for “disturbance involving a person armed with a knife,” according to a statement from the Louisiana State Police.

“As LPD officers attempted to apprehend Pellerin, he fled the scene and a foot pursuit ensued. Officers deployed tasers as they pursued Pellerin, but they were ineffective,” the statement read, adding the man was holding a knife during the entirety of the exchange.

At least one officer fired his weapon at Mr Pellerin, Chief Morgan said, when the man was attempting to enter a convenience store.

This incident is the third shooting by Lafayette police since mid-July. One man was critically wounded by police last month after being shot during an altercation. Another man was in stable condition after being shot during a burglary last month.

When speaking to The Advocate, Mr Haley and Mr Crump said they would be seeking policy changes within the police department as well as justice for Mr Pellerin’s family following his death on Friday.

“We want policy changes as well, so that Ben and I are not in the living room with another family in Lafayette dealing with this,” Mr Haley told the publication.

More protests are expected in Lafayette on Sunday.

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