BATON ROUGE, La. — State police have released a report saying officers in a south Louisiana city police department were justified in last year’s fatal shooting of a Black man whose death has prompted a federal lawsuit.
The report identifies the three Lafayette Police Department officers who fired at Pellerin and gives their accounts of what happened and those of other officers and witnesses, news agencies reported.
The report, which The Advertiser posted on its website, said police shot Pellerin when he tried to enter a convenience store after two ineffective attempts by law enforcement to use stun guns on him. He had threatened at least one officer with the pocket knife he was carrying and had ignored repeated demands to drop the knife, according to the report.
State Police Detective Georgiana Kibodeaux quoted all three officers who fired at Pellerin as saying they were afraid he would attack people in the store or other officers.
The officers are Sr. Cpl. Tyler S. Howerton, 34 and Officers Malik D. S. Savoy, 24, and Kevin M. McFarlain, 28.
“Ofc. McFarlain stated he could not live with himself if Pellerin would have stabbed someone in the store,” she wrote, according to The Advertiser.
Howerton, who fired three shots, had joined the force in 2009. McFarlain, a K-9 handler who joined in 2017, fired four times. Savoy in 2019, who joined in 2019, fired five shots.
“After a careful and thorough review of the evidence collected, interviews conducted, and facts learned during the investigation, I did not find probable cause to substantiate criminal charges against Sr. Cpl. Howerton, Ofc. Savoy, and Ofc. McFarlain,” Kibodeaux wrote.
State Police investigators interviewed nine Lafayette police officers and more than a half-dozen civilian witnesses, The Advocate reported. Lafayette police turned over 41 police body cameras and vehicle recorders, the report indicated.
Pellerin’s family filed a federal lawsuit last year against Lafayette police, saying their son did not have a knife when he was killed.
The lawsuit said the only knife seen in body camera footage and photographs after the shooting that was shown to them was one used to cut Pellerin’s clothing to give him first aid after he was shot. The footage also failed to show officers attempt to use other methods to stop Pellerin before shooting him, according to the suit.
When the grand jury cleared the officers, attorney Ron Haley, who is representing the family, said he would ask for a federal civil rights investigation.
He did not immediately respond Thursday to an email seeking comment about the state police report.