A Lafayette grand jury on Tuesday concluded deliberations in the Lafayette Police Department shooting death of Trayford Pellerin and will not be handing up charges against officers in the case, Pellerin family attorney Ron Haley said Tuesday afternoon.
Pellerin’s mother, Michelle, testified before the grand jury on behalf of her family Tuesday morning, as part of an arrangement with 15th Judicial District Attorney Don Landry’s office. Michelle Pellerin was then called around 1:15 p.m. and informed the grand jury was not returning true bills, or indictments, against officers involved, Haley said.
The attorney said the family was not informed what charges the grand jury was asked to consider or who charges were considered against. Haley said the family is waiting for answers about how the case was presented to the grand jury and whether an outside use of force expert was retained, or if the district attorney’s office relied on Louisiana State Police’s investigation into the shooting.
“The family is extremely disappointed. They were hopeful to be the exception to the rule, but they have unfortunately learned they are the rule. Par for the course took place today,” Haley said.
Landry said he could not comment on the grand jury’s decision or confirm the no indictment finding when reached by phone early Tuesday afternoon, but said detailed information will be shared at a press conference. Haley and the Pellerin family are slated to give separate statements following Landry’s press conference.
Trayford Pellerin, 31, was shot and killed by Lafayette police officers at a gas station off the Evangeline Thruway after a prolonged foot pursuit on Aug. 21. Officers initially responded to disturbance calls about a man, later identified as Pellerin, acting strangely and bothering customers at a different convenience store, about half a mile from the one where Pellerin was shot.
Louisiana State Police said Pellerin was holding a knife when he was shot. Investigators also said that officers deployed tasers but they were “ineffective.”
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Louisiana State Police conducted the investigation into the police shooting and turned their findings over to the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s office. In a meeting with Pellerin’s family members and Haley on April 28, Landry informed the family that State Police investigators classified the shooting justifiable in their findings.
Haley is representing the family in a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana against 10 unidentified Lafayette officers labeled as John Doe 1-10, interim Lafayette Police Chief Scott Morgan, the Lafayette Police Department, Lafayette Consolidated Government and two insurance companies identified as ABC Insurance Company and XYZ Insurance Company, claiming the officers violated Pellerin’s constitutional rights.
The claims are based on partial evidence shown to the family at the urging of Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory in September. Haley said the evidence included 20 minutes of footage from one officer’s body camera, three still photographs and four recordings of disturbance calls to police
They argue in the lawsuit that the evidence casts doubt on statements that Pellerin held a knife and that tasers were properly deployed but ineffective
An independent autopsy completed by American Forensics of Mesquite, Texas at the behest of the Pellerin family and their legal team determined Pellerin was shot multiple times, including in the abdomen, chest, back and torso. The report also found no evidence on Pellerin’s body that he was struck by a taser, which challenges law enforcement reports.
The only publicly available evidence is a bystander video showing several officers converging on Pellerin and shooting him as he approached the door to the gas station convenience store. A woman is heard saying “that man got a knife” a few seconds before the officers open fire, but it is not clear from the video if Pellerin was holding one.
Haley said progress in the civil case has ground to a near halt as their legal team waits on access to evidence. Discovery hinges on access to law enforcement documents and personnel, which are shielded until any potential criminal charges are resolved, he said.