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Blocked Release of Body Camera Footage, Independent Autopsy of Trayford Pellerin Highlights Need for Police Reform in Louisiana

September 9, 2020

This morning, the Daily Advertiser reported that “a state judge blocked release of any video footage and other reports related to the shooting death of Trayford Pellerin to the public, including Pellerin’s family.”

This comes after Trayford Pellerin’s family released an independent autopsy this weekend after Pellerin was shot 10 times and killed by Lafayette police in August. The autopsy “found no evidence on Pellerin’s body that he was ever struck by a taser nor any defensive markings on Pellerin’s body,” according to The Advocate. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, police representatives and Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory indicated that officers attempted to subdue Pellerin using a taser before shooting and killing him; prior to today’s ruling, Mayor-President Guillory also had agreed to show Pellerin’s family body camera footage this week. According to The Advocate, the independent autopsy also “found bruises on Pellerin’s wrists that indicated he was handcuffed.” 

“These disturbing findings and this ruling highlight the desperate need for police reform in Lafayette and across our state,” said Angelle Bradford, a volunteer with the Louisiana chapter of Moms Demand Action. “As the Police Training, Screening, and De-escalation Task Force and local officials across Louisiana continue to review police practices, we’re urging them to work with local groups who are recommending substantial changes that will help Louisiana reimagine public safety and save Black lives.” 

The Lafayette Parish NAACP and other organizations have called on officials to enact substantial reform, including ending qualified immunity and creating a citizen law enforcement oversight committee. 

Meaningful use of force policies encourage de-escalation, utilize early intervention systems, and ensure that officers who act in a manner that is criminally negligent can be held accountable. Use of force policies can ensure that laws help advance safety and promote trust in the police. 

Research suggests that implementing specific use-of-force policies can save lives. One 2016 study of 91 large police departments found adoption of use-of-force reform policies—exhaustion of other means prior to shooting, bans on chokeholds and strangleholds, use-of-force continuum, de-escalation, duty to intervene, restrictions on shootings at moving vehicles, and warning before shooting—was associated with fewer people killed by police. 

According to the Daily Advertiser, the fatal police shooting of Trayford Pellerin was at least “the third time an on-duty Lafayette Police Department officer has shot a person in five weeks, and the fourth in 2020.” Black people in the United States are nearly three times more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts, and data from Mapping Police Violence shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns.

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