The mother of a man shot dead by Louisiana police said her son was intelligent, shy, and had sought treatment for social anxiety.
Her lawyers said they intend to file a lawsuit over the death of Trevord Bellerin, who police said was in possession of a knife and was trying to enter a convenience store.
The shooting was videotaped, and the state’s Civil Liberties Union condemned what it described as “a horrific and fatal incident of police violence against a black person”. The ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center called for an investigation quickly.
Bellerin’s death prompted a crowd of protesters to rally on Saturday to demonstrate against the police’s recent shooting. Trooper Derek Senegal said officers wearing riot gear fired smoke canisters on Saturday evening to disperse the crowd. He said no tear gas was used.
Louisiana State Police said Lafayette officers followed Friday night, 31-year-old Bellerin on foot as he left a grocery store that disrupted a knife. The stun gun failed to stop him, and officers shot Bellerin while he was trying to enter another store, still holding the knife, according to a press release.
Michelle Bellerin told The Advocate that Bellerin has become anxious in groups and may be afraid of the officers. She said he sought professional help earlier this year.
“Instead of helping him, they gave him bullets,” Ben Krumb, a national civil rights lawyer, told the newspaper. He and Baton Rouge lawyer Ronald Haley said they began their own investigations by interviewing witnesses. Haley said some said Pelerin was not armed.
Kramp said the family believed Pelerin may have had a mental health crisis.
Lafayette Police have asked the state police to investigate – a standard state procedure for shooting by local officers.
“Lafayette Police shot Mr. Pelerin several times as he was moving away from them,” said Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, in an emailed statement. His death required an analysis of the excessive use of force by law enforcement. We fully support the movement’s leaders ’calls for a prompt and transparent investigation into the killing of Mr. Pelerin.
“Once again, a video clip captured a horrific and fatal incident of police violence against a black person brutally murdered in front of our eyes,” said ACLU Executive Director Alana Odoms Hebert.
The killing of George Floyd, captured on video, on May 25 under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis has sparked global accountability over police tactics and racial injustice.
“Trifford Bellerin must be alive today. Instead, a family in mourning and a grieving community.” “None of our societies is safe when the police can kill people with impunity or when routine confrontations escalate into deadly shootings.”
Ricasha Montgomery, who captured the video of the shooting, told The Advertiser that a man carrying what looked like a knife kept walking down the highway while some officers fired a lightning bolt at him. Montgomery, 18, said officers with rifles shouted at him to get down on the ground.
She said they shot when the man reached the door of the Shell gas station.
“When I heard the shooting, I couldn’t hold my phone like I was photographing for the first time,” she said. “I feel scared of it. I’m in shock. You’re used to hearing this, but I never thought I’d experience it.”
Kramp, who represents the Pelerin family, described the shooting as reckless and his death tragic.
“The officers involved should be dismissed immediately because of their hateful and murderous acts,” Crump said in a statement on Saturday.
The incident was the third shooting by Lafayette police since mid-July. State police said a man was seriously injured last month after being shot during an altercation with police. Another man was in stable condition after being shot during a robbery investigation earlier this month.
Haley told The Advocate that he and Kramp would seek reforms and policy changes in the police department in addition to compensation.
“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,” Haley said.