Police Officer Indicted In Shooting Death Of Former Florida A&M Player

Police Officer Indicted In Shooting Death Of Former Florida A&M Player

A grand jury yesterday indicted Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick on a count of voluntary manslaughter, for his role in the Sept. 14 death of Jonathan Ferrell. Kerrick fired 12 shots, hitting the unarmed Ferrell 10 times, as he sought help after a car accident.

Ferrell, a former safety at Florida A&M, had recently moved to Charlotte, gotten engaged, and was working two jobs in retail when he drove his car off the road around 2 a.m. After kicking out the rear window and extracting himself from the car, he knocked on the door of the first house he saw—and the woman inside called police, saying a black man was trying to break into her home. Kerrick was one of three officers who responded. A dashboard camera in their patrol car captured what happened next:

What they saw, according to people who have seen the video, was a 24-year-old man who was approaching officers with his hands outstretched. In the confusion, it is difficult to discern whether the bullets or commands from the officers came first. Either way, according to one lawyer who has seen the video, there was little time for Mr. Ferrell to respond.

If convicted, Kerrick faces a maximum of 11 years in prison.

Below, our September story on the shooting.

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Pending approvalOriginal post by Barry Petchesky on Deadspin

Unarmed Former Florida A&M Player Shot Dead By Police

Unarmed Former Florida A&M Player Shot Dead By Police

Jonathan Ferrell, a former safety at Florida A&M, was shot and killed by North Carolina police early Saturday morning, apparently after seeking help after a car accident. Ferrell was unarmed, and the officer who fired the fatal shots has been charged with manslaughter.

What happened on Saturday around 2 a.m. remains unclear. The public version of events comes from a press conference given by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief on Saturday, before the officer was charged. He said Ferrell crashed his car into an embankment in northeast Mecklenburg County. He climbed out the back window of his mangled car, and walked about a quarter-mile to a house visible from the accident scene.

There, according to police chief Rodney Monroe's initial statement, Ferrell started "banging on the door viciously." The woman who lived there believed he was a robber, and dialed 911. Three officers responded and encountered Ferrell near the home. Ferrell "immediately ran toward the officers," according to a police statement.

One officer fired his taser, and officer Randall Kerrick, who's been on the force since 2011, fired his gun, striking Ferrell "multiple times." Ferrell died at the scene.

Police initially described the encounter as "appropriate and lawful," but on Saturday night changed course.

The police investigation found “the shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive,” authorities said in a statement late Saturday. “Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”

Ferrell, 24, played two seasons for the Rattlers in 2009-10, and moved to Charlotte in February, family members told the Observer. He had just gotten engaged, and was working two jobs, at Best Buy and Dillard's.

Friends and teammates described Ferrell as quiet and intensely devoted to his younger brother, with whom he played football in high school and college. Earl Holmes, his head coach at FAMU, was shocked when he heard the news.

"I was saddened when they told me.” Holmes said. “They told me he was murdered. I said, ‘What? Murder? That doesn’t sound like him. Not the Jonathan I remembered.’ The Jonathan I remembered was a soft-spoken kid, quiet and to himself."

Ferrell's family has hired Florida attorney Christopher Chestnut, who represented Robert Champion, the FAMU drum major who died in a 2011 hazing incident. "If Mr. Ferrell was not black or brown," Chestnut said, "wouldn’t [police] have asked him a few questions before showering him with bullets?" Ferrell's family is expected to hold a press conference later today.

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