Published September 16, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A North Carolina police officer charged with shooting and killing an unarmed man who had apparently been in an automobile wreck was scheduled to appear in court Monday to face a voluntary manslaughter count.
Jonathan A. Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M University football player, was killed early Saturday.
He had sought help at a nearby house, according to a statement from Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. A woman answered the door and, when she didn't recognize the man, called 911.
Officers responding to the breaking and entering call found Ferrell nearby. Ferrell ran toward the officers, who tried to stop him 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.
A police statement Saturday said the investigation showed the shooting was excessive and "Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter."
During a news conference on Monday in Charlotte, Ferrell's mother said she was praying for Kerrick.
"I truly forgive him. I pray for him. And I pray that he gets off the police force," Georgia Ferrell said. "You took a piece of my heart that I can never get back."
Georgia Ferrell appeared alongside her attorney, Chris Chestnut. Chestnut also has represented the family of Robert Champion, a FAMU drum major who died during a hazing ritual in November 2011.
FAMU Interim Athletic Director Michael Smith said Jonathan Ferrell played the safety position for the school's football team during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
In describing the accident, Police Chief Rodney Monroe has said 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 did not know what caused the crash and did not say whether Ferrell suffered injuries.
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.
On Monday, Chestnut applauded police for charging Kerrick quickly.
"To shoot first and ask questions later is not an appropriate action for a police officer," Chestnut said.