CBS Charlotte News Copy
September 19, 2013
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -
The Mecklenburg County District Attorney has asked to be removed from prosecuting the case against a Charlotte police officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed man over the weekend.
According to DA Andrew Murray, he has asked the North Carolina Attorney General's Office to prosecute the case against Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall Kerrick.
Attorney General Roy Cooper's Office accepted the request on Thursday afternoon.
Kerrick is accused of shooting and killing 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell on Saturday. Officers were called to 7500 block of Reedy Creek Road early Saturday morning after a 911 call.
According to police, Ferrell approached three officers and ran towards them. One officer fired a Taser, but it was unsuccessful. Officer Randall Kerrick fired 12 rounds at Ferrell, hitting him ten times, according to an initial autopsy report.
The shooting has sparked division in the community, some supporting Officer Kerrick, others saying it was racially motivated.
Murray says the decision to remove himself is an effort to ensure the public has complete confidence in the integrity and fairness of the judicial process.
"This case is clearly a tragedy and we will work to bring it to a just resolution. We have accepted the Mecklenburg District Attorney's request to take over the prosecution of this case today," a statement from North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said. "Attorneys in our Special Prosecutions unit will handle its progress through the court system, and State Bureau of Investigation agents will conduct an independent investigation."
Before being elected as District Attorney, Murray was in private practice in Charlotte for 14 years. Two of his former partners are the attorneys who are now representing Kerrick.
The DA's office says there have been other cases in which the connection between the defendant and the DA's Office was close enough to potentially present the appearance of a conflict of interest. In those cases, Murray requested that either the Attorney General's Office or a prosecutor from another district assume the prosecution, allowing his office to withdraw from the case.
"The nature of the case against Mr. Kerrick is such that the community will be affected by any and all decisions regarding the prosecution and final disposition of the case," the District Attorney's office released in a statement on Thursday.
"It would be impossible for Mr. Murray to avoid involvement in the case if prosecuted by his office. Further, it is critical that the family of the victim, the defendant, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the citizens of our community have confidence that the case is handled objectively and impartially by the State's attorneys."
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #9 President Todd Walther says Kerrick was a member of the local lodge.
"As a member in good standing with the lodge, we stand in support of Officer Kerrick during this difficult time," Walther told WBTV on Thurday.
"As an additional benefit to the FOP membership, the FOP, through its Legal Defense Fund, offers to assist in the legal defense of members in good standing with the State Lodge and their local lodge when such members face litigation or prosecution for acts within the scope of a member's employment as law enforcement officers," Walther said.
The DA's Office says it will review all cases in which Officer Kerrick is a police witness and decide whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed in those cases without his testimony.
CBS Charlotte News Copy
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A sobbing woman pleads for police to “please hurry” because a man was breaking into her front door during a 911 call recorded moments before a responding officer shot and killed the unarmed man outside.
The unidentified woman kept repeating “Oh, my god! Oh, my god!” throughout the call, which was released Tuesday. She also told the 911 operator that she had a baby in a crib and didn’t know what to do. Later, she said the man knocked on her door and “he’s in my front yard yelling.”
Authorities said Jonathan A. Ferrell was shot 10 times by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer after being involved in a single-car wreck. Police have said Ferrell may have been seeking help and made no verbal threats to the woman.
Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter. His lawyers were in court Tuesday for a first appearance on the charge. Kerrick, 27, did not attend. The judge scheduled an Oct. 7 probable cause hearing for Kerrick.
After the hearing, defense attorney Michael Greene declined to take questions but said of Kerrick: “His actions were justified on the night in question.”
Ferrell family attorney Chris Chestnut disagreed, saying he watched a video of the shooting recorded by a dash cam on one of the patrol cars. Chestnut said the tape shows that Kerrick fired four shots, then paused. Moments later, the officer fired six more rounds and paused again before firing the last two shots.
“This is clearly a criminal shooting,” he told the Associated Press.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police refused the AP’s request to release the tape, saying it was part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
Kerrick joined the police force in April 2011 after working as an animal control officer. He grew up in nearby Cabarrus County.
Kerrick and two other officers responding to the breaking and entering call found Ferrell on a road that only leads to the neighborhood’s pool. Ferrell ran toward the officers, who tried to stop him with a Taser. Police said he continued to run toward them and Kerrick fired 12 shots, hitting Ferrell with all but two. Ferrell died at the scene.
Chestnut and representatives of the NAACP have questioned whether race played a role in the shooting. Ferrell is black, while Kerrick is white. Though there was praise for police for quickly filing charges, some said the shooting didn’t surprise them, considering portrayals of black men in popular culture and previous instances of racially inflected violence
On the 911 tape released by the city, the woman tells a dispatcher that she thought her husband had returned home around 2:30 a.m. But when she opened the door, a man tried to get in.
Sobbing and trying to catch her breath, the woman asked the dispatcher: “Where are the cops?”
The dispatcher tried to calm her down, repeating over and over that they were on the way.
He also asked her to describe the man. She told him he was black, about 210 pounds and wearing a green shirt.
At one point, the woman told the dispatcher about her baby. “He’s in his bed. I don’t know what to do. I can’t believe I opened the door…Please don’t let him get my baby,” she cried.
When police arrived at the scene, she peeked out her window. And when the officers began looking for a man, the dispatcher assured the woman they weren’t leaving.
On Monday, Ferrell’s family said in their first public remarks in the case that the former Florida A&M University football player moved to Charlotte about a year ago to be with his fiancee and was working two jobs. He wanted to go back to school and eventually become an automotive engineer, they said. He had no criminal record.
The encounter was set in motion around 2:30 a.m. Saturday when Ferrell’s car ran off the entrance road to a suburban neighborhood about 15 miles from downtown Charlotte.
After crashing his car into trees, Ferrell kicked out the back window and headed up a hill to the first set of closely-clustered houses he could see. He then started “banging on the door viciously” of a home to attract attention, police Chief Rodney Monroe said.
Listening to the tape, Chestnut said he doesn’t blame the caller, but police missed critical opportunities to de-escalate the situation.
“If someone is going to rob your house, they’re not going to knock on your door at 2 in the morning. They’re not going to ask you to turn down the alarm. I don’t expect the caller to deploy that analysis but I would expect the trained 911 dispatcher to at least make the nexus and articulate it for the officer,” Chestnut said.
And when police arrived at the scene, Ferrell was not in the “immediate vicinity of the home.”
“He’s down the street. If you just pause and consider ask what’s going on, they would realize that it’s not consistent with the call. Here you have a guy who’s in a green T-shirt and jeans, no shoes – he just survived a car wreck and climbed out the back window and was walking around for help. That’s not consistent with a robber…When law enforcement pulls up, he doesn’t turn away from you, he runs to you for help. That’s not consistent with a robber, either. This was a helpless unarmed frightened young man,” he said.
By: Lanetra Bennett
September 17, 2013
Tallahassee, FL - Attorneys for the police officer charged with killing a former FAMU football player, say the shooting was justifiable.
Authorities say the Charlotte, North Carolina officer fired at Jonathan Ferrell a dozen times -- hitting him ten times.
Former FAMU Head Football Coach Joe Taylor says, "When I heard it, I said, no, that can't be the Jonathan that I know."
It was the Jonathan that Taylor knew, coached, and loved.
24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell was killed by a police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina early Saturday morning.
Taylor was FAMU's head football coach when Ferrell played in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Taylor says, "I didn't want to believe it. Here's a young man who just did everything you want a young man to do; and always just so well-mannered, very respectful."
Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with manslaughter after authorities say ten of the 12 rounds Kerrick fired at Ferrell hit and killed the unarmed Tallahassee native. Authorities say the shooting happened after Ferrell went looking for help after crashing his car.
"For something like this to happen, it just sets all of us back." Says, Current FAMU Head Football Coach Earl Holmes.
Coach Holmes say he got the news about Ferrell's death just before FAMU's football game Saturday afternoon. Holmes helped recruit Ferrell as an assistant coach.
Coach Holmes says, "A guy who never complained about the things he was going through. He always put his best foot forward and was an achiever. He was a kid who always worked hard, always cut out any excuses, just wanted to work and get better."
It wasn't just FAMU's defensive lineman that had Jonathan Ferrell's back. I'm told that his younger brother was also always by his side, on and off the field.
FAMU Linebacker Bobby Jackson says he was a freshman when Ferrell played at FAMU. Jackson says, "He took me in. Me and his little brother, Willie Ferrell, me and him were real close. We played lineback together. It's really taking a toll on the team."
"He's going to be missed. He really is." Coach Holmes, says.
Officer Kerrick was not in court for Tuesday's first appearance. He has another court date set for October 7th.
Family members say funeral arrangements have not been finalized yet.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. | A Charlotte police officer accused of shooting an unarmed man 10 times after the man was in a car crash over the weekend is scheduled for appearance in court on voluntary manslaughter charges Tuesday afternoon.
Officer Randall Kerrick fired 12 times at Jonathan A. Ferrell early Saturday after the 24-year-old was in a single-car wreck and sought help at a nearby house, police said.
Kerrick's first court appearance had been scheduled for Monday but was delayed. Officials did not say why.
On Monday, Ferrell's family said in their first public remarks in the case that the former Florida A&M University football player moved to Charlotte about a year ago to be with his fiancee and was working two jobs. He wanted to go back to school and eventually become an automotive engineer, they said.
"You took a piece of my heart that I can never put back," said Ferrell's mother, Georgia Ferrell, as she clutched a stuffed Winnie the Pooh doll her son loved as a child.
Also Monday, a family attorney and representatives of the NAACP questioned whether race played a role in the shooting of the black man by a white officer. Though there was praise for police for quickly filing charges, some said the shooting didn't surprise them, considering portrayals of black men in popular culture and previous instances of racially inflected violence.
"The officer is white, Mr. Ferrell is black," Ferrell family attorney Chris Chestnut said. "This might be more of a reflection of where we are as a country."
The encounter was set in motion around 2:30 a.m. Saturday when Ferrell's car ran off the entrance road to a sprawling suburban neighborhood that was carved out of farmland about a decade ago some 15 miles from downtown Charlotte. A sign near the crash site advertises a neighborhood watch meeting in a few days.
After crashing his car into trees, Ferrell kicked out the back window and headed up a hill to the first set of closely-clustered houses he could see. He then started "banging on the door viciously" of a home to attract attention, police Chief Rodney Monroe said.
The woman inside answered, thinking it was her husband coming home late from work. When she saw Ferrell, she shut the door and called police. Monroe said he didn't think the unarmed Ferrell made threats.
Officers responding to the breaking and entering call found Ferrell on a road that only leads to the neighborhood's pool. Ferrell ran toward the officers, who tried to stop him with a Taser. Police said he continued to run toward them when Kerrick shot him. Ferrell died at the scene.
Chestnut, who has spoken with police officials, said Kerrick didn't identify himself as a police officer.
A small pot of flowers and red balloons were placed on the spot. Orange spray paint was the only other indication of where Ferrell died.
Lance LoRusso, an attorney and former police officer, said it's unusual for a police officer to be charged so quickly after a shooting. He said there is generally a waiting period while investigators review the evidence.
"There are a couple of reasons why police take their time. First of all, it takes time to develop things like the toxicology report to determine what happened. You have to wait until daylight to reconstruct the crime scene. You have to interview all the people involved. And the officer is given the opportunity to decompress before making a statement," he said.
But police told CBS Charlotte affiliate WBTV, "The fact that Officer Kerrick discharged his weapon and that Mr. Ferrell was unarmed were some of the factors included in the decision to charge Officer Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter."
Police issued a statement saying evidence revealed Kerrick's use of force was excessive and fit the criteria for voluntary manslaughter, the station says, adding, "WBTV has learned that police consulted with prosecutors but it was the police department that decided to file charges. "
WBTV says police tell it that Kerrick was disciplined in December, suspended for a day for an undisclosed infraction.
Ferrell's mother said Kerrick had no business being a police officer if he couldn't react properly to a man who needed help.
"I truly forgive him. I pray for him. And I pray that he gets off the police force," Georgia Ferrell said.
His family painted a picture of a bright man with an "infectious smile" who was always there for his brothers and sisters. "He was a role model," said his brother, Frank. "He had so much love in his heart. And he was always concerned about his family."
"He had dreams of being an automotive engineer. He wanted to design a car from the very last bolt to the interior," his brother said.
He said he didn't know where his brother was going that night, or why he got into the accident. But he said his brother had never been in trouble before.
Several people in the neighborhood where Ferrell went after the crash refused to talk to a reporter Monday. A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police car was in one driveway just up the hill from Ferrell's wreck. No one answered the door at that home.
Ferrell was at least the sixth person to be shot by Charlotte-Mecklenburg officers since the start of 2012. Four of them have died.
Charlotte police investigate their own officers involved in shootings. The State Bureau of Investigation can step in if requested, but they haven't been asked to do so in any recent officer-involved shootings.
In the other shootings, prosecutors decided not to charge the officers involved and an independent panel of citizens that investigates the police ruled the shootings were justified.
The shooting needs to bring more scrutiny to the Citizens Review Board so the group simply doesn't assume police officers are always right, said Kojo Nantambu, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"No police department is perfect," Nantambu said. "But every time that group investigates, they find nothing wrong."
By: Lanetra Bennett
September 16, 2013
Tallahassee, FL - A police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina is facing manslaughter charges for shooting a former FAMU football player.
We've now learned that the officer shot the unarmed 24-year-old ten times.
The family attorney, Christopher Chestnut, says it's unprecedented for the police chief to move so swiftly and boldly by arresting the officer who shot 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell. But, Chestnut says it was the appropriate action.
Ferrell's mother says the one thing she wants, she can't have.
"I just want my son's life to live on." Says, Georgia Ferrell.
Georgia Ferrell says it's been difficult dealing with the death of her son. She says, "Right now, I'm somewhat numb. If I can get him back, I would say I want him back. I want my son to bury me; I don't' want to bury him."
Twenty-four-year-old Jonathan Ferrell, a former FAMU football player, was killed by a police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina early Saturday morning.
Police say a woman called 911 after Ferrell knocked on her door. But, authorities say he was there looking for help after getting into a car accident.
Authorities say when three officers arrived, they tased Ferrell. They say he kept moving, so, one of the officers, Randall Kerrick, shot Ferrell ten times.
Officer Kerrick is now charged with manslaughter.
The Ferrell Family's attorney, Christopher Chestnut, says, "From our review, the only sounds were the sounds of gunshots. There were no commands to stop. There were no commands to freeze; stop or I'll shoot, police. I think this is a young man who probably was going toward the police officers, the same way if you were injured in a car accident and you saw red or blue lights, you'd run to help not death. He ran to help."
Jonathan's brother, Willie Ferrell, says, "He was one of the most magnificent individuals I ever came in contact with. Even though I was fortunate enough to spend so much time with him, Jonathan was never the type of person to harm nobody."
Attorney Chestnut calls the shooting "grossly excessive." He says he plans to get answers for the Ferrell family. He says if it requires filing a lawsuit, then he will.
The president of the Tallahassee Urban League, Reverend Ernest Ferrell, says it's appalling how his cousin was shot to death by the officer.
He says, "Everything came together and started getting more and more information on what really happened, then it became more depressing."
Rev. Ferrell says he was surprised that Officer Kerrick was arrested. He says, "To do that certainly implies that there must be more to this than we know. You know they don't arrest police officers unless it's something awful and that the evidence is there to substantiate what they're doing."
Jonathan Ferrell was a participant on FAMU's 2010 Co-MEAC Championship football team. But, those who knew him say it was his personality that made him a winner.
Ferrell's mentor from FAMU High School, Ramon Alexander, says, "I can just remember him interacting with his younger brother, Willie, and them having that big brother, little brother moments. It's very sad. He was a special young man. We're going to miss him a whole lot."
Associated Press Release
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- NC police: Unarmed man shot 10 times during fatal encounter on Saturday with Charlotte officer.
Associated Press Release
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An unarmed man who was shot and killed by a police officer in North Carolina after a wreck was a former football player for Florida A&M University, school officials said Sunday.
Jonathan A. Ferrell, 24, played for the school in 2009-10 and had recently moved to North Carolina. Early Saturday, he had apparently been in a wreck and was seeking help at a nearby house early Saturday, according to a statement from Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. A woman answered the door and, when she didn't’t recognize the man, called 911.
Officers responding to the breaking-and-entering call found Ferrell a short distance from the home, police said. As they approached him, Ferrell ran toward the officers and was hit with a Taser. Police said he continued to run toward them when officer Randall Kerrick fired his gun, hitting Ferrell several times. Ferrell died at the scene.
Police called the Ferrell and Kerrick’s initial encounter “ appropriate and lawful. But in their statement late Saturday, they said “the investigation showed that the subsequent shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive” and “Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”
Police said Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter, which under North Carolina law involves killing without malice using “excessive force” in exercising “imperfect self-defense.”
Police were not expected to further describe the incident Sunday, CMPD spokesman Officer Keith Trietley said, and a report was not available Sunday.
Kerrick, 27, of Midland, turned himself in for booking Saturday evening and was released on $50,000 bond, according to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office website. Kerrick joined the police force in April 2011.
FAMU Interim Athletic Director Michael Smith confirmed Sunday that Ferrell played the safety position for the school’s football team during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to his family during their time of bereavement,” Smith said in an emailed statement.
A search of public records indicated that Ferrell began living in Charlotte early this year after moving from Tallahassee, Fla., home to FAMU.
Before Kerrick was charged, police chief Rodney Monroe describe the accident in a news conference: Ferrell was driving a vehicle that crashed into trees off a northeast Charlotte road early Saturday, and the wreck was so severe he would have had to climb out of the back window to escape. Monroe said he didn’t know what caused the crash and didn’t say whether Ferrell suffered injuries, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Ferrell apparently walked about a half-mile to the nearest house and was “banging on the door viciously” to attract attention, Monroe said. Thinking it was her husband coming home late from work, the woman who lives there opened the door. When she saw Ferrell, she shut it and called police about 2:30 a.m., Monroe said.
Monroe said he didn’t think the unarmed Ferrell made threats or tried to rob the woman.
Florida A&M University Athletics Press Release
Florida A&M University is deeply saddened to hear about the loss of one of our former student athletes, Jonathan Ferrell.
Jonathan Ferrell was on the FAMU roster in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
He was a participant on the 2010 Co-MEAC Championship football team.
He played the safety position while he attended FAMU.
Our hearts and prayers go out to his family during their time of bereavement.
Interim Athletic Director
Florida A&M University Athletics
UPDATED 9-15-13 12:00 a.m.
The police officer that shot and killed a former FAMU football player has been arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter, that according CBS affiliate WBTV in Charlotte.
WBTV reports that officer Randall Kerrick turned himself in after an arrest warrant was issued in the death of Jonathan Ferrell.
Ferrell was running towards police officers after police were called out to a possible breaking and entering case in a Charlotte neighborhood.
The WBTV report says another officer fired a Taser towards Ferrell but didn't connect. When the taser did not work, Kerrick fired multiple rounds hitting Ferrell several times.
Ferrell was pronounced dead on the scene.
Police Chief Rodney Monroe of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says Kerrick did not have to fire his weapon during the incident.
Ferrell was unarmed during the shooting. WBTV reports that investigators are looking into a vehicle that was in an embankment near the scene that may have been driven by Ferrell.
Detectives are working to see if Ferrell was trying to get assistance. Police still don't know why he was in the area.
September 14, 2013
A former Florida A&M University football player was killed Saturday morning in Charlotte, North Carolina.
According to WBTV-TV, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer shot Jonathan Ferrell to death after he allegedly charged towards officers.
It happened early Saturday morning in Northeast Charlotte while police officers were responding to a breaking and entering attempt call.
According to police, officers first tried tasing him, but when that failed, he was shot two times and pronounced dead at the scene.