Police misconduct lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on a recent tragedy in North Carolina, the killing of an unarmed African American 24-year-old man, Jonathan Ferrell. Authorities confirm Ferrell, a former college football star, was shot ten times while seeking help after a car accident.
Coming in the wake of other crime news in the United States – the mass murder at the Washington Navy Yard, the conclusion of Trayvon Martin’s case – this shooting reflects the country’s hot-tempted conversation over tougher gun laws and heightened racial tension. The North Carolina attorney general recently stated that his office would be handling the prosecution of the police officer, who opened at least ten rounds into Ferrell. The Special Prosecutions unit will handle the case and the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation will conduct the investigation.
Thought to be seeking help after a car accident, Ferrell knocked on the door of a suburban woman on Saturday, September 21, 2013. The woman, fearful that the man was trying to break into her home, called 911. Shortly after her call, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Officer Randall Kerrick and two other officers arrived at the scene.
Ferrell was a former Florida A&M University football player, who moved to Charlotte, N.C. in 2012 to be with his fiancÃ©e. He worked two jobs and hoped to go back to school to become an automotive engineer. He had no criminal background.
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The young man was involved in a car wreck in the early hours of Saturday morning, running off the entrance road of a suburban neighborhood around 2:30 a.m. His car struck several trees, and Ferrell had to kick out the back window to escape the wreckage. He went to the woman’s house for help, knocking vigorously to attract attention.
Officer Kerrick and two other officers responded to the call in a neighborhood about 15 miles from downtown Charlotte and found Ferrell on the road nearby. Ferrell ran toward the officers, thinking they had come to help him. Upon his approach officers fired a Taser gun at him, however, stunned, Ferrell kept approaching them. Kerrick ultimately fired twelve shots at Ferrell, who was hit with ten, and died at the scene.
The Chief of Police told reporters that, even if Ferrell continued to run toward officers after the Taser gun was fired, deadly force was not justified. Ferrell was unarmed, stranded and shaken from the car accident, which the police dashboard video clearly shows. After reviewing the tape, the Chief affirmed that at the time of the shooting Ferrell had his hands outstretched and empty, was not yelling or threatening, and that the officers did not say a word before firing.
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27-year-old Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter and the 911 call that spurred the police involvement has already been released to the public. During the 17-minute phone call, the panicked woman tells the responder that she believed Ferrell was trying to break into her home, watching through her windows as Ferrell walked through her yard and up the street. Ferrell’s car was found wrecked about a half mile from her home.
The racial overtones of the shooting have sparked national outrage and debate among journalists, civil rights advocates and gun advocates. The NAACP along with the American Civil Liberties Union are currently requesting that North Carolina strengthen its citizens review board, which investigates complaints against police but has never once ruled in opposition to police departments. The agencies are also requesting that the video footage be made public record.
Ferrell’s family told reporters that it will consider all legal options after the investigation and review have been completed. The current charges against Kerrick were brought by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Police brutality lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on this case and others like it as more news emerges. If you or a loved one was similarly fired upon or injured by a rogue police officer, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to compensation for any medical bills, lost wages, or wrongful death. Contact a skilled police misconduct attorney today for a free legal consultation.