Sherell L. Lewis Jr., 31, a local barbershop entrepreneur in Vernon Parish got run over and killed by a 2003 Chevy pickup truck driven by 18-year-old Mathew Martin who then fled the scene. Lewis and another pedestrian were attempting to remove wood building material from the right lane of US Hwy 171 southbound when he was struck by Martin He later died from his injuries at a local hospital.
The teen then made racist statements and bragged about the death of Lewis on Snapchat, according to reports.
“Y’all i just hit a whole guy on the highway,” wrote Matthew M. Martin, of Hineston, La.
Asked about the identity of the victim — Sherell L. Lewis Jr., who is black — the young man reportedly told his friend: “some n—r.”
“How did the chevy take it,” the pal replied, according to screenshots obtained by KPLC.
“F–ked it up pretty good lol,” said Martin.
“It’ll buff out,” the friend quipped.
“Yes sir,” wrote Martin, using a laughing emoji.
His buddy also crassly asked about the manner in which Lewis died, according to the screenshots.
“The guy die on impact or what,” wrote the unidentified individual.
“No he died otw to the hospital,” Martin claimed.
Louisiana State Police officials told KPLC that they were aware of the Snapchat exchange and were still investigating the circumstances surrounding Lewis’ death on Tuesday.
While they called Martin’s comments “morally and socially unacceptable,” there’s nothing authorities can do about them because they “did not violate criminal law.”
“I am appalled at the content of the social media messages that were posted after the incident,” Vernon Parish (La.) Sheriff Sam Craft said in a statement.
“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.”
NAACP leaders said Wednesday that they were disgusted by Martin’s comments, which sparked outrage on social media — and reportedly came just minutes after he nailed Lewis with his 2003 Chevrolet pickup.
“It’s horrendous,” said 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.”
Lewis, who owned his own barbershop in the city of Leesville, was trying to help out local drivers on Tuesday, his 31st birthday, when he was struck and killed, cops said.
“What it appears at this point is that this man was trying to do a good deed,” explained LSP Sgt. James Anderson. “There was debris in the roadway and he didn’t want any other motorists to strike it. So he gets out of the vehicle to remove the debris, and he is struck while this is happening.”
Mathew Martins Chevy truck was severely damaged by the impact
Local residents have been sharing details about Lewis on social media, with some using the hashtag #JusticeForRell.
“This man meant a lot to the community here,” wrote one user. “He was at every event, school function, games, graduation all that. Most of all, man, he cared about us. Every time we went into the barber shop, he would give us advice and talk to us.”
Lewis’s family described him as a very giving man who “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’ sister, Shotoya Lewis-Ayers, told KPLC.
“He loved what he did,” she said. “That’s including the barbering and touching people’s lives.”