A North Carolina police officer accused of shooting and killing an unarmed man who had apparently been involved in a car wreck early Saturday was expected to appear in court Monday, nearly two days after authorities charged him with a count of voluntary manslaughter.
Jonathan A. Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M University football player and recent North Carolina transplant, was allegedly fatally shot by Officer Randall Kerrick after Ferrell had apparently crashed his vehicle off a northeast Charlotte road.
Ferrell then sought help at a nearby residence, according to a statement from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department spokesman Keith R. Trietley. A woman answered the door, believing her husband had come home from work. And when she didn’t recognize Ferrell, she immediately called 911, reporting a robbery attempt around 2:30 a.m.
Officers responding to the woman’s breaking-and-entering call discovered Ferrell, who matched the woman’s description of the possible robbery suspect, near the home, police said. As they approached him, Ferrell allegedly charged at the officers, one of whom stunned him with a Taser.
Ferrell allegedly continued to run toward the officers — and that’s when Kerrick fired his gun, striking Ferrell multiple times, according to police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
A preliminary police investigation showed that Ferrell was unarmed his encounter with officers. Police said the investigation also found that the shooting was excessive and “Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”
At a news conference Monday in Charlotte, Ferrell’s mother said she was praying for Kerrick, 27, who joined the CMPD in 2011.
“I truly forgive him. I pray for him. And I pray that he gets off the police force,” said Georgia Ferrell, according to the Associated Press. “You took a piece of my heart that I can never get back.”
Christopher Chestnut, the family’s attorney, said Ferrell was in the process of transferring from Florida A&M, where he played football. He had recently moved to North Carolina with his fiancée, Chestnut added.
Chestnut stopped short of saying race played a role in the fatal shooting — Kerrick is white; Ferrell was African-American — although he said Kerrick made a poor decision when he opened fire.
“To shoot first and ask questions later is not an appropriate practice,” Chestnut said.
Kerrick turned himself in for booking Saturday evening and was then released on $50,000 bond, according to a statement on the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office website.
The other officers who responded to the breaking-and-entering call — Officer Thornell Little and Officer Adam Neal — have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the shooting investigation, per department protocol, police said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published September 15 2013, 2:25 PM