Police Chief Craft Discusses Girard Park Drowning – Lafayette Live
The body of 21-year-old Grambling State University student Alexandria Shelton was found by police in Girard Park over the weekend. Investigators ruled drowning as the cause of death. Police Chief Jim Craft joined "Nathan and Bernie in the Morning" today to discuss the incident as well as the subsequent outrage as the result of some controversial media coverage.
We are a safe community, but we are not a crime free community
"At this point we have no information to indicate foul play was involved," said Craft. "It appears to be an accident."
Craft says police know the woman was unfamiliar with the park and could not swim. The initial evidence shows Shelton appears to have gone into the water under her own volition.
"We’re waiting on toxicology results which could take up to 3 months," said Craft. "We’re waiting to see if drugs or alcohol played a role in that and then we’ll have a better idea a little further down the road."
Tragedy turned to outrage when a controversial article describing the incident was published on a local media outlet's Facebook page. Facebook comments accused the media outlet of "victim blaming".
The article cited comments regarding safety precautions by Lafayette Public Relations Officer Paul Mouton. Craft says victim blaming was never Mouton's intention.
We talk about that in sexual assault cases where there was always this myth that “this girl asked for it," I’ve always said that’s not the case, but you can violate certain risk factors which increase the chance that you become victimized.
The incident has led some to question whether or not Lafayette is a safe city.
Compared to other towns we have a pretty safe city. Our crime rates are below the national average, but we always tell people to take the proper precautions, be alert and aware of your surroundings.
Lafayette Chief Administrative Office Dee Stanley reiterated Craft's sentiments.
"We are a safe community, but we are not a crime free community," said Stanley.
To listen to the full audio from the interview, click the play button below: