A Black Lafayette Parish sheriff’s deputy took his own life on Monday (Feb. 1) because he’d “had enough... of serving a system that does not give a damn” about him or other African Americans. In a series of heartbreaking videos, Deputy Clyde Kerr III spoke extensively about being a Black law enforcement officer and witnessing the “demonic” criminal justice system from the inside, which the 43-year-old says ultimately led him to commit suicide in front of his workplace.
In one video shared by Shaun King, Kerr spoke about the police killings of Botham Jean, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Trayford Pellerin, who was killed by Lafayette police officers in August.
“I can’t abide by this no more. I’m not having anything to do with this nonsense no more,” he said. “... If this feels right to you, then there is something wrong with you. This is the furthest thing from right.”
Kerr was a longtime deputy, a veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and a resource officer at St. Genevieve School.
“My entire life has been in the service of other people... y’all entrust me to safeguard your little ones, your small ones, the thing that’s most precious to you and I did that well. I passed security clearance in the military... but that has allowed me to see the inner workings of things,” he said. “And it has dawned on me… that they really don’t give a damn about us. That is the truth.”
“I understand we have a tough job, but we signed up for this,” he continued. “We need help. Because when you deal with the bottom rung of society, that does not give us an excuse to just do whatever you want; and that’s what we’re doing and we’re not being held accountable.”
Since his suicide, Kerr’s videos have accumulated thousands of views and sparked conversations about mental health in policing and the state of the criminal justice system. In a post, Shaun King wrote, “The fact is that the system is so gross and so inhumane... that it’s even destroying police themselves.”
The Advocate spoke with Lafayette City Marshal Reggie Thomas about Kerr’s videos after his death. Thomas, who is the first-ever Black person to be elected to a citywide position in Lafayette, said the video that resonated most with him was about a conversation Kerr had had with his son after George Floyd’s death.
“He had to talk to his son about how you have to react with a police officer,” Thomas told the outlet. “Nobody should have to have that conversation.”
Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garner confirmed Kerr’s passing on Monday in a statement.
“The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office is heartbroken to confirm the loss of a member of our LPSO family, who took his own life this morning,” it read. “My heart goes out to his immediate family and to all of the brothers and sisters he has at the sheriff’s office. We will do everything in our power to support our employees as we all grieve.”
See one of the videos, posted by King, below.