A Louisiana sheriff’s deputy died by suicide on Monday after recording and posting to social media videos of himself condemning institutionalized racism and describing his struggle as a Black law enforcement officer in a system that he says condones police brutality against Black people.
Lafayette Parish Deputy Clyde Kerr III, 43, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to a preliminary coroner’s report. He was outside the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, according to Capt. John Mowell.
Kerr became a deputy in 2015, Mowell said.
He was a New Orleans native, Army veteran and father of two boys.
In the videos posted online, he spoke about the police killings of Black Americans such as Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, and George Floyd in Minneapolis — which sparked nationwide protests last summer against police brutality and racial injustice.
“I’ve had enough of all of this nonsense, serving a system that does not give a damn about me or people like me,” Kerr said in one video, speaking directly to the camera. “You have no idea how hard it is to put a uniform on in this day and age with everything that’s going on.”
CNN has confirmed Kerr’s identity in the videos with Michael Robinson, who described Kerr as one of his closest friends. Kerr filmed two videos on January 29 and a final one on January 31. All three were posted to his YouTube account just hours before his death, according to Robinson.
In his last video, Kerr described himself as a “stellar” deputy who dedicated his life to the service of others. He also called for additional mental health resources for police officers, including more frequent psychiatric evaluations.
“This is my protest against police brutality and everything else that comes along with it in this broken, wicked, worldly system that does not give a damn about people,” the deputy said.
Kerr, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq as a soldier, was a school resource officer at St. Genevieve Elementary School and St. Genevieve Middle School in Lafayette.
Robinson said he met Kerr in 1995 as they were moving into their dorms at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where the deputy studied criminal justice.
“He just loved being an officer,” Robinson said. “He just didn’t like some of the things behind the scenes, such as practices that needed to change for the better. He had great ideas about what could be done to make it better and heal the relationship with the public.”
Robinson told CNN that the death of Floyd last May weighed heavily on Kerr. He confided in Robinson last summer about a difficult conversation he had with his teenage son, who watched the widely circulated video of Floyd’s killing.
“He told me that he thought about resigning just because of how everything was, and I told him if he did that in this climate, I don’t think anybody could fault him for it,” Robinson said. “But I said, ‘Man, those kids would really miss you.’ That’s basically the reason he was still there.”
In a statement to CNN, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office said they are “heartbroken” from the loss of Kerr, who “took his own life earlier this week and left behind so many friends and coworkers who cared for him deeply. Our thoughts and prayers are with Deputy Kerr’s family, as we all struggle to process this together.”
To get help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is also a crisis text line. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.