LAFAYETTE, La. (NewsNation Now) — The parents of a man who was killed by police in southern Louisiana are suing the Lafayette Police Department and Lafayette Consolidated Government, saying their son did not have a knife when he was fatally shot.
Trayford Pellerin, 31, was killed on Aug. 21 as he walked away from a convenience store in Lafayette. Police said the Black man was trying to go into another store while still holding a knife when officers shot him.
In the wrongful death lawsuit obtained by NewsNation Now, Cedrick and Michelle Pellerin, individually and on behalf of their deceased son, said they were seeking compensatory damages, special damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorney fees and such other relief as may appear just and appropriate.
In Monday’s federal lawsuit, Pellerin’s family said the only knife seen in body camera footage and photographs after the shooting shown to them is one used to cut Pellerin’s clothing to give him first aid after he was shot.
The footage also fails to show officers attempt to use other methods to stop Pellerin before shooting him, according to the lawsuit.
Trayford Pellerin was shot 10 times by police as he attempted to walk away from them outside the Circle K gas station on the Evangeline Thruway, according to a private autopsy released by his family.
The officers, who were responding to a call reporting a disturbance, said they tried to stun Pellerin with a Taser, but the footage shows the first officer missing with the barbs of the stun gun before the shooting.
The lawsuit said three officers shot at Pellerin.
The city didn’t respond to questions about the lawsuit.
Pellerin’s family suggested he was having a mental health crisis and likely was tuning out the officers. They said the only evidence he had a knife came from several calls to police suggesting he had one.
The Pellerin’s, in their lawsuit, said that they were seeking to hold accountable the defendants for their son’s murder and for the pain, emotional distress and financial loss caused to plaintiffs.
The lawsuit also claims that between 2010 and 2019, statistics published by Lafayette Police Department show 1,172 use of force reports submitted by LPD officers, and in the same time period that 107 civil lawsuits were filed against LPD.
NewsNation affiliate KLFY and Associated Press contributed to this report.