Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory on Friday made peace, for the moment, with the family of Trayford Pellerin, the 31-year-old Black man who was gunned down by police Aug. 21.

Guillory met with Pellerin’s family for about 90 minutes after two weeks of halting responses to outcry over his treatment of them, as well as demands for answers about the shooting.

Members of the family’s legal team said Guillory agreed to arrange for them to privately view body camera footage of the shooting, and to attend Pellerin’s funeral Sept. 10. While that falls well short of what the family has demanded, the lawyers said it was a good first step toward helping them understand why their loved one was killed.

Guillory did not speak to reporters after the meeting. His spokesman, Jamie Angelle, confirmed the agreements.

The lawyers characterized the meeting as an olive branch, with Guillory making a few simple commitments while also engaging in sincere discussion with the grieving family. Guillory displayed genuine concern for the family, the lawyers said, and apologized for how he had reacted to the shooting.

“The mayor was unequivocal in his effort to say that he apologized for how he initially came out on this particular situation, and that he was willing to work with this family and the community at large,” said Dedrick Moore, one of the lawyers representing the family.

A bystander video showed police swarm behind Pellerin and shoot him as he walked up to a convenience store and reached for the door. State Police, which is handling the investigation, said he had a knife. Authorities also say that tasers failed to stop him, although an autopsy that the family commissioned found no evidence he had been struck with tasers.

Another of the Pellerin family's lawyers, Ronald Haley, also questioned why police did not attempt to use a baton, rubber bullets or pepper spray to subdue Pellerin before shooting him.

Haley, speaking to reporters before the meeting at City Hall, said the independent autopsy should not have been necessary, since the Lafayette Parish Coroner's Office has already conducted an official one. The lack of disclosure of information about Pellerin's death is inexcusable, Haley said. 

"Two weeks ago today, Trayford Pellerin was taken from his family," Haley said, briefing reporters before the meeting at City Hall. "Yet we know just as much about that situation now as we knew about it then."

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The coroner's final report is not yet complete, according to the Coroner's Office. A preliminary findings report shows only that Pellerin died of multiple gunshot wounds, and that a toxicology screen is pending. 

The police pursued Pellerin from a convenience store on Evangeline Thruway to another store at a gas station near the intersection with Willow Street. It is not known why police were called to the first store. 

Guillory’s initial statement after the shooting expressed sympathy for law enforcement without acknowledging Pellerin’s family. The statement, which did not identify Pellerin by name, characterized him as a criminal threatening the lives of people inside a convenience store. Pellerin family lawyers have said that police officers firing in the direction of the store posed the only threat to bystanders. Police fired 17 bullets, 10 of which hit Pellerin, according to the independent autopsy. 

Guillory met with clergy members and apologized three days after the shooting, and he admitted he should have recognized the family in his first statement. But he did not explain what he apologized for, and he still did not mention the Pellerin family by name.

Guillory became more overtly sympathetic in subsequent public statements, and this week he invited the Pellerin family to meet with him in his office. Afterward, the family’s lawyers credited Guillory with showing vulnerability and empathy.

“The mayor was point blank with us,” said Haley, explaining Guillory’s answer to the question of why it took so long to speak with the family. “He did not know initially the questions to ask. He did not know how to initially react, and he reacted wrong. I think that level of vulnerability and admitting one’s shortcomings, is admirable.”

Yet Haley also emphasized the family is waiting to see if Guillory follows through on his commitments, with a private viewing of body camera footage as the top priority. That would also allow the family to identify the officers who shot Pellerin. Ultimately the family wants those officers terminated and prosecuted, Haley said, but those demands were not discussed Friday. 

Haley said he hopes Guillory will publicly display the empathy he showed in private, “so that White citizens of Lafayette can see that he is behind the Black citizens of Lafayette.”

“The vulnerability and honesty that he gave the family, we need to see outside those doors to the mayor’s office, and thrust upon the community,” Haley said.

This post has been updated to include Jamie Angelle's confirmation 


Email Ben Myers at bmyers@theadvocate.com. Follow Ben Myers on Twitter, @blevimyers.