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Grand jury clears police in killing; family wants US probe

May 12, 2021 GMT

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A grand jury has cleared officers who shot and killed a Black man last year, and his family’s attorney said he will request a federal investigation.

A Lafayette Parish grand jury declined second-degree murder charges on Tuesday against Lafayette police officers who shot Trayford Pellerin outside a convenience store on Aug. 20.

The panel did not consider lesser charges, District Attorney Don Landry told a news conference.

Pellerin’s mother, Michelle Pellerin, told a news conference that she will keep asking for justice, news agencies reported.

Police have said Pellerin was trying to enter a convenience store carrying a knife and repeatedly ignored police commands to drop it.

“I’m tired of the excuse of failing to comply as a reason to kill Black people in this country,” family attorney Ron Haley said. “Failure to comply is a misdemeanor, not a death penalty.”

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He said he will ask the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether Pellerin’s civil rights were violated. The family’s federal lawsuit, which was on hold until documents before the grand jury could be demanded, also will move forward, Haley told the news conference.

Landry released video of the shooting and events that preceded it.

Police originally had been called to another convenience store — one where Haley and family members said his sister works. She was not there that night, they said.

Surveillance video shown on Tuesday showed Pellerin inside the first store, mostly by the door, for about 20 minutes. He eventually became agitated, went to the back and came out carrying a knife and throwing a cup of liquid into the parking lot.

He opens the door while a clerk is making a 911 call, saying that he knows the woman he was looking for is in the store and that she will face a kidnapping charge, KATC-TV reported.

Police attempts to use stun guns were ineffective and there were too many people around to release a police dog, Landry said.

“These officers went above and beyond the requirements of the use of deadly force in this case,” he said.

He also said that blood tests found that Pellerin had used enough methamphetamine to cause restlessness, confusion, hallucinations, and violent and irrational behavior, The Advocate reported.

The district attorney said lessons from the incident include the “terrible and damaging power that illegal drugs cause in our community,” KATC-TV reported.