31 year old Sherell L. Lewis Jr. of Leesville, Louisiana was driving down Highway 171 on Tuesday, May 30 when he noticed some debris on the side of the road he thought needed to be cleaned up. As he parked on the roadside and got out of his truck to clear the debris at around 3:15 P.M., a 2003 Chevrolet pickup truck struck Lewis head-on, the impact leading to his death shortly afterward. That wasn’t the end of this tragic incident however. Social media posts made by the young man who was driving the Chevrolet pickup truck, 18 year-old Matthew M. Martin, containing racist language have caused outrage and led some to question the circumstances surrounding Sherell Lewis’s untimely end.
Not long after Matthew Hinton, who is white, ran over Sherell Lewis Jr. (who was Black), he posted a picture to his Snapchat account of his truck with the caption, “y’all I just hit a whole guy on the highway😭😭😭.” When asked by a follower just who it was that he hit, Hinton responded, “some n****r.” When the Snapchat follower asked how Hinton’s Chevy was after the impact, Hinton responded “fucked it up pretty good lol”. After Hinton followed up with more pictures showing the damage to the Chevy, the Snapchat follower wrote “it’ll buff out. The guy die on impact or what?” Hinton’s response was “yes sir 😂 no he died otw to the hospital.” If you can’t tell, that is indeed a dying laughing emoji face in response to his having just taken another man’s life.
Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft, while agreeing that Hinton’s social media posts are reprehensible, says that the posts “do not violate the law.” And while that may be the case, the fact that the young man obviously thinks it’s so funny and feels the need to brag on social media about running over, in his words, “some n****r” is enough reason in my opinion to at least consider the possibility of investigating this case as a hate crime. It was only years ago when teens in the neighboring state of Mississippi purposely ran over and killed James Craig Anderson in a horrific hate crime. While the investigation is pending, it appears investigators won’t be going any further than doing routine toxicology tests unless some other evidence emerges in the meantime.
Sherell Lewis Jr. of Leesville owned and operated Sonny Boyz Barber and Beauty on US Highway 171. According to his sister Shotoya Lewis-Ayers, Lewis “loved what he did. That includes the barbery and touching peoples’ lives.”