UPDATE: Matthew Martin — who killed a black man with his truck earlier this year and then made racist comments about it on Snapchat — was cleared of all charges related to the tragedy.
Sherell Lewis Jr., 31, was picking up debris on the side of the road when he was struck by a vehicle driven by 18-year-old Martin. After Martin’s disgusting Snapchat conversation following the crash was made public, the hashtag #Justice4Rell was created to call for a thorough investigation into the accident and charges to be brought upon Martin, The Daily Dot reports.
This week, the Vernon Parish, Louisiana, police department released a statement with the results of its investigation. They determined that Martin was going the speed limit and was not on his phone when the accident occurred, therefore the department cleared him of all fault.
Although Sheriff Sam Craft deemed Martin’s social media posts “morally and socially unacceptable,” they were not in violation of the law.
Lewis’ relatives, however, are not satisfied with this result and have said they plan to pursue the case in civil court.
Sadly, this outcome is a heartbreaking reminder that it is not against the law to be racist scum, and that is why people like Martin are walking freely among us everywhere.
However, he should be held accountable in some aspect. At the very least, he should be fined or his driver's license should be revoked until he completes driver safety courses. He certainly doesn't deserve to walk away from this scot-free.
Who posts footage accompanied by laughing emojis after running over and killing an innocent stranger?
On Tuesday, Matthew Martin, who is white, posted images on Snapchat after running over Sherell Lewis Jr., who is black, with his truck.
In his post, Martin, 18, used laughing emojis to convey how he felt about the death he had just caused.
Y’all I just hit a whole guy on the highway,” he wrote in the insensitive post that included an image of his damaged vehicle.
When someone responded to his post asking who or what he had hit, Martin replied, “some n***er.”
He was completely casual and unfazed by the incident while discussing it with his follower. After the unnamed friend asked, “How did the Chevy take it?” Martin responded, “F**ked it up pretty good lol.”
Mr King @ShaunKing , my friend Sherell Lewis Jr was killed yesterday as a result being hit by a car. After he was hit by the car, the driver posted racist comments as if this was a hate crime. https://t.co/8vyr8fEKqn pic.twitter.com/FYSTWsULwf— - Vanessa Huxtable (@ShaQ_NoOneal) May 31, 2018
Apparently, the status of the man’s vehicle was more important than the life he had just taken.
Adding insult to injury, Lewis, 31, was struck by Martin while being a good Samaritan and picking up debris on the highway. First responders arrived on the scene, and Lewis was transported to a local hospital where he eventually succumbed to his injuries.
Local news source KALB also noted that several people who knew Lewis reported that Tuesday was his birthday.
The incident sparked outrage after Martin’s posts were made public, and the sheriff’s department issued a statement maintaining that Martin's racist words didn’t constitute a crime.
“I am appalled at the content of the social media messages that were posted after the incident,” said Sheriff Sam Craft. “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.”
He added: “Although the incendiary language used in the social media post is morally and socially unacceptable, the post itself did not violate any criminal code within Louisiana law.”
Social media users, including prominent activist Shaun King, weighed in on the heartbreaking situation, expressing their anger and disgust that Martin found humor in what he had done because the life he took was that of a black man.
Black Lives matter so little to many Americans that after running over Rell Lewis with his pickup truck, this man proceeded to laugh and joke on Snapchat about killing "some nigger."— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) May 31, 2018
His friend, whose name I have not been able to find, also found the whole thing hilarious. https://t.co/zzFSScNKb9
Heartbreak for Rell Lewis, obviously a sweet man, & all who loved him. Matthew Martin should be charged with manslaughter while reckless driving, hate crime for ghastly comments afterwards, sentenced to maximum extent of law. He & all his family should be ostracized by community.— Linda KAY Leamon (@DancingMare) May 31, 2018
So based on this, who’s to say this wasn’t premeditated- pretty apparent he has no regard for this black life he’s taken... 😡— Donte Spell (@donjuaaan) May 31, 2018
They seemed to care more about his car.— 💔💛Clare Winger #JustSayLies Harris 💚💙💜🌪 (@ClareWHarris) May 31, 2018
While being racist may not be a crime, Martin's careless attitude toward the ordeal indicates that hitting Lewis may not have been a total accident. In fact, his actions could have very well been deliberate. After all, why didn't he swerve out of the way upon noticing a person in the road? Based on the Snapchat photos and KALB's report, the accident happened in broad daylight. So, what exactly is Martin's excuse for not seeing Lewis in time to avoid hitting him?
Although an investigation is underway, it's too early to say if Martin will face real consequences for his actions. However, if the criminal justice system doesn't punish him, karma certainly will.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: REUTERS/Stephanie Keith