A white 18-year-old who struck and killed a black man with his pickup truck and allegedly used the N-word while making light of the situation in social media posts will not be charged with a crime.
Louisiana State Police said in a statement on Facebook Thursday that “a very thorough and comprehensive investigation into the crash” showed driver Matthew Martin was not violating any traffic laws or using his cell phone on May 29 when he struck Sherell Lewis Jr. with his truck.
“Martin was operating his vehicle at the posted speed limit of 55 mph, prior to the crash, and decreased his speed as he approached Lewis Jr.’s location in the roadway,” the State Police statement reads. “As Martin was nearing the scene, he switched his vehicle from the right lane to the left lane. As Lewis Jr. entered the right lane, he altered his direction of travel and began walking back towards the grass median. This action placed him in the direct path of the 2003 Chevrolet pickup.
“Injuries Lewis Jr. sustained and the front bumper damage to the Chevrolet helped to confirm the direction Lewis Jr. was walking when the collision occurred.”
Lewis Jr. — who was removing debris from highway 171 when Martin hit him with his pickup truck — was pronounced dead from his injuries at Byrd Regional Hospital in Leesville. It was his birthday.
After the incident, pictures of Martin’s Snapchat posts surfaced that allegedly show him using the N-word and expressing greater concern for his truck than the deceased 31-year-old.
In what appears to be a conversation with a friend, Martin wrote he hit “some n----r.”
Police referenced the “insensitive comment” Thursday, but deferred to a previous statement by Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft, who said following the crash that the crass language depicted in Martin’s conversation did not violate any laws in Louisiana.
Social media are asking for further forensic evidence into whether Martin tried to avoid colliding with Lewis Jr., like brake marks on the road. Others are asking for a toxicology report on Martin.