Before deputy Clyde Kerr III took his own life Monday outside the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, he left haunting final words in a series of social media videos.
Kerr, a father and military veteran, was 43 years old.
In Kerr’s videos, he talked directly to the camera on a range of issues, from police brutality against Black people and mental health needs in policing, to division in society and children’s exposure to murder, violence and other negative or traumatic influences. He also describes his struggle to reconcile his identity as a Black man with his profession while hinting at his impending suicide.
Being a Black man in law enforcement can be difficult, said Lafayette City Marshal Reggie Thomas, the first Black person elected to a citywide position in Lafayette.
Thomas said he watched some of the videos Kerr posted and could tell the man was deeply concerned about the way police work is going. One video that particularly resonated was of Kerr relating a conversation he had with his son in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.
“He had to talk to his son about how you have to react with a police officer,” Thomas said. “Nobody should have to have that conversation.”
Kerr’s videos have garnered thousands of views since his death and are catalyzing conversation online and in the community about addressing mental health needs and the current state of policing.
Kerr said he was done serving a system that doesn’t care about people like him.
“You have no idea how hard it is to put a uniform on in this day and age with everything that’s going on,” he said.
“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.”
The videos show a man who professed he was upset by the state of society: “I’ve had enough.”