Social posts after pedestrian struck and killed met with outrage
VERNON PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Racist posts to social media after a pedestrian was struck and killed on a Louisiana highway have been met with disgust and outrage.
A 31-year-old pedestrian was hit while removing debris from the roadway of US 171 Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.
Sherell L. Lewis Jr., 31, stopped his vehicle on the side of the southbound lanes, north of Pickering, around 3:15 p.m. to remove the debris, according to a news release from Louisiana State Police Troop E.
Lewis was struck by a 2003 Chevrolet pickup driven by 18-year-old Matthew M. Martin, of Hineston, said Master Trooper Scott Moreau. Lewis was pronounced dead at an Alexandria hospital. Martin was wearing a seatbelt and was not injured. Routine toxicology tests are pending. The crash is still under investigation.
A Snapchat post allegedly by Martin and a Snapchat conversation allegedly with him containing racist language about Lewis following the crash have been widely shared on social media. Several viewers have sent images of the posts to KPLC.
The Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office has also been contacted numerous times about the posts.
Sheriff Sam Craft says that while the posts are "morally and socially unacceptable, the post did not violate criminal law."
“I am appalled at the content of the social media messages that were posted after the incident. This post is unacceptable and has no place in our society. The inflammatory words that were used were morally wrong. I have the utmost confidence in the Louisiana State Police and their ability to thoroughly investigate this incident. I encourage any citizen who has information regarding the accident to contact the Louisiana State Police – Troop E, Alexandria, La. (318) 487-5911.”
"It's horrendous," says Lake Charles NAACP President Rev. J.L. Franklin. "Our prayers are with the family, no doubt about that. But what is most devastating is the aftermath of that. The posts."
Shotoya Lewis-Ayers, Lewis' older sister, says that her brother will be remembered for his smile and his positive attitude toward helping others.
"He would have helped anybody that needed, help no matter what. If you were feeling down, he would always make jokes, crack you up, keep you smiling."
Lewis-Ayers says that her brother owned Sonny Boyz Barber and Beauty on US 171.
"He loved what he did. That includes the barbery and touching people's lives."
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