As grieving relatives finalize the details for the unexpected funeral of Calvin Cains III, they said they are still seeking answers to the many questions they have about the 18-year-old's shooting death at the hands of a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office deputy on Tuesday.
Cains was fatally shot while behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle in the parking lot of a Metairie apartment complex, authorities said. Sheriff's Office deputies had gone to the location looking for him in connection with a road rage shooting that had occurred in New Orleans two days earlier.
Cains' family members questioned the use of lethal force and wondered why the apprehension ended with his death.
"We're just so hurt...," Calvin Cains Jr., 40, said Thursday. "Why did they kill our son?"
The Sheriff's Office did not release any additional information about the shooting, saying that the case is still under investigation.
The New Orleans Police Department had reached out to the Sheriff's Office for help in searching for Calvin Cains III, who was wanted for aggravated second-degree battery in a June 4 shooting on North Claiborne Avenue in the Tremé neighborhood, according to authorities.
In that case, a 30-year-old motorist said he was shot after following a vehicle that almost collided with his, the NOPD said.
Investigators were looking for a stolen Toyota C-HR that had been linked to the road rage shooting, Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said. Aware that Cains had previously been arrested at a relative's apartment in the 3300 block of West Esplanade Avenue in Metairie, deputies headed there and spotted the stolen Toyota in the parking lot, authorities said.
Deputies were setting up surveillance on the vacant vehicle when Cains walked out of an apartment and got into the car, according to Lopinto. Deputies pulled their vehicle in front of the stolen car to block its escape.
Cains put the car in reverse and hit the fence at the back of his parking space, according to authorities. Cains then "turned the wheels and moved the vehicle between the blocking vehicle and a fence," the Sheriff's Office said in a statement released Tuesday.
A deputy who was walking toward the car at that time opened fire, striking Cains through the windshield. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Cains' attempt to escape "put one of our deputy's lives in danger," Lopinto said on the day of the shooting, "and he utilized the proper force."
Cains' relatives said they would like to see the video from the body-worn cameras that were in use during the shooting. Sheriff's Office officials have said they are not publicly releasing the video at this time.
Cains' family members questioned whether the vehicle moved toward the deputy.
“Him turning the wheel, how is that a threat? Because he turned the wheel? He couldn’t even go anywhere," Calvin Cains Jr.'s fiancée, Ishaya Manuel, said.
If the Sheriff's Office considers a vehicle a weapon, why did they even let him get into the car, Calvin Cains Jr. asked.
“I want to understand. Why did they let him walk from the apartment to the car without apprehending him? Why even let him get to the vehicle if you know you’re looking for him?" he said.
And the elder Cains also wanted to know how New Orleans police identified him as a suspect in the road rage shooting.
"How do they know he was the person involved," Calvin Cains Jr. asked.
Family members described Calvin Cains III, known by the nickname "Trey," as a friendly teen who loved to clown around and laugh.
He'd just graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in New Orleans with the class of 2023, according to his father.
"He was just living his life like you people do," Calvin Cains Jr. said.
Calvin Cains III had been arrested and was facing gun and drug charges in Jefferson and Orleans parishes. His father noted that the JPSO deputies first arrested him almost a year ago at the same Metairie apartment complex, and that apprehension didn't end in gunfire. Cains, relatives said, did not deserve to die.
"He just made some bad decisions, but he was a loving kid," Calvin Cains Jr. said.
A GoFundMe has been established to help relatives with the costs of burial. Those who wish to donate may do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/2qz8t-funeral-arrangements