In a rare occurrence, a police officer was arrested and charged with killing a black man — and it didn’t take riots or protests from civil rights leaders Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson for police to take action.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick, 27, was taken into custody and charged with shooting and killing former FAMU football player Jonathan Ferrell, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Police believe Ferrell, 24, was involved in a single car crash and may have been seeking help when he pounded on a woman’s door late Saturday night.
Police say Ferrell was driving inside an exclusive gated community when his black Toyota Camry left the road and plunged down an embankment near the community’s pool, clubhouse and tennis courts. Damage to the vehicle was extensive and Ferrell was forced to crawl out through the shattered back window before making his way to a woman’s home to seek help.
The woman told police she opened her door because she thought her husband was arriving home from work. When she saw a stranger standing there she slammed the door, called 911 and hit her alarm.
Three Hickory Grove division officers arrived on the scene minutes later and confronted Ferrell about a quarter mile away.
The Charlotte Observer reports that when the officers got out of their car, “Mr. Ferrell immediately ran toward the officers,” according to a police statement. The police report noted that Ferrell “moved toward Kerrick” who drew his stun gun and fired. According to the police report, the stun gun was “not successful,” so Kerrick drew his service weapon and shot Ferrell 3 times, killing him.
Kerrick was the only officer to draw his weapon.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police moved swiftly to charge Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter after interviewing the only witnesses to the murder — Kerrick’s fellow officers.
According to a police statement, Kerrick used unnecessary force and “did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon.”
The police action came 19 hours after Ferrell was killed. Two experts in police use of force told the Observer they’d never seen a police officer charged so soon after a shooting.
Despite the swift police response, the NAACP plans to hold a press conference today. And Ferrell’s grieving family has hired a lawyer who specializes in wrongful death lawsuits.
“If Mr. Ferrell was not black or brown, wouldn’t they have asked him a few questions before showering him with bullets?” the attorney, Christopher Chestnut, told Reuters.
Ferrell, who was part of the 2010 Co-MEAC Championship team, worked two jobs, one at Best Buy and another at Dillard’s department store, according to The Charlotte Observer.
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