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Lawyer for NC cop who shot unarmed man seeking help: Actions 'justified'

1:59

Lawyers for a North Carolina cop who shot an unarmed man seeking help after a car accident say their client's actions were "justified."

The defense attorneys, representing the Charlotte officer who shot a 24-year-old former college football player 10 times, appeared in court Tuesday on behalf of their client. 

Officer Randall Kerrick, who is charged with voluntary manslaughter, did not attend.

Following the hearing, one of Kerrick's lawyers said the officer was justified in shooting former Florida A&M University football player Jonathan A. Ferrell. 

Former Florida A&M University student and football player Jonathan Ferrell, 24, is shown in this undated handout photo provided by Florida A&M University. Handout / Reuters

"His actions were justified on the night in question," said defense attorney Michael Greene, according to The Associated Press.

Authorities said Ferrell was involved in a single-car crash Saturday. After crashing his vehicle into a tree, the man sought help at a nearby house in suburban Charlotte.

A woman heard the loud knocks and got up to open the door, but was startled to see Ferrell on her doorstep. 

"I woke up around 2:30 a.m, and there was a strange man kicking and banging violently on the door," Sarah McCartney said. "I feared for my life and my son's life.

"I thought something had happened to my husband so I opened the door, realized it wasn't him and shut the door," she added.

The woman called police, unaware that Ferrell had been in a car crash and was seeking help.

"I need help," the distressed woman told the 911 dispatcher. "There’s a guy breaking in my front door." Listen to full 911 call.

Police released the 17-minute audio recording of the 911 call Tuesday. McCartney sounded panicked and distressed as she described to the dispatcher the tall and muscular black man kicking on her door.

Officer Randall Kerrick Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police via AP

"I can’t believe I opened the front door," she said.

The commotion also triggered the home security alarm. McCartney said the man outside kept yelling "turn it off," referring to the alarm.

When three police officers arrived on the scene, Ferrell ran toward them.

One officer unsuccessfully fired a Taser at Ferrell before Kerrick fired his gun 12 times, missing only twice, police said.

A judge on Tuesday scheduled an Oct. 7 probable cause hearing for Kerrick. 

McCartney, visibly shaken by the events, called the situation a tragedy for everybody involved.

Chris Chestnut, an attorney representing Ferrell's family, said the family will consider its legal options after a thorough review of the case. He questioned whether Kerrick was prepared to handle the situation appropriately, noting that the two other officers involved did not fire their sidearms.

Meanwhil, the North Carolina chapter of the ACLU and other groups have called for the city to strengthen its citizens review board, which is tasked with investigating complaints against police but has never ruled against the police department.

The ACLU is also calling for all video footage recorded at the scene to be considered a public record. Charlotte police last month began testing body cameras to replace recording devices on squad car dashboards.

Ferrell's mother, Georgia, said that she is still praying for the man who killed her son. Ferrell had played football at Florida A&M University before moving to Charlotte last year to be with his fiancée.