Trayford Pellerin’s death on the hard pavement of an Evangeline Thruway gas station lot is tragic for many reasons, not the least of which his family and friends will miss their loved one. All people of good will ought to be troubled by the fate that Pellerin, just 31, met Friday night in Lafayette.
That his death was avoidable is likely, too. State Police have been charged with investigating the facts surrounding Pellerin’s case, which included his reportedly peculiar and potentially dangerous behavior — he was carrying a knife and apparently was menacing enough that police were called to the scene — and which ended in his shooting, which involved several police officers.
That does not mean that officers are necessarily at fault. They responded when called; they attempted to no avail to slow Pellerin’s feared aggression; they followed him for almost a half-mile and may have only fired when it appeared that he was headed into a second gas station, still armed, where staff and customers were inside. For whatever reason, he did not follow police commands to drop his weapon.
Could they have done more? The NAACP believes so, and if that is the case it may prove valuable to law enforcement to learn how things might have been done better. That State Police report may help.
The public should understand that factors surrounding Pellerin’s death, if proven to be true, may have promised no satisfactory ending to his story. Police are obliged to protect the law-abiding public. If Pellerin followed police commands, he might be alive today. State Police will tell us more about the facts and case after what should be a complete, thorough investigation.
When family members lose a son, grandson or brother, they may never find answers that will satisfy them. Suggestions that police could have or should have taken other steps may be correct — or not. The investigation will tell us more.
Nonetheless, we regret that he died and hope his family can find peace in the days ahead.
Protesters over the weekend demanded justice for Pellerin. Marches that spilled out into busy streets were dangerous for all. The local chapter of the NAACP tried to thwart trouble and cautioned unruly protesters — they were out-of-towners, the NAACP said — that they were hurting the cause. City leaders would do well to listen to the NAACP’s leadership.
We respect the right to protest — it’s rooted in our Constitution — and respect every right intention of those who marched peacefully. With storms bearing down on the Louisiana coast, though, we hope vigilant protesters will await the State Police report, which should tell us much about the circumstances of Pellerin’s death.