CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A racially diverse jury of eight women and four men was expected to begin deliberating Tuesday afternoon in the trial of a white Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer accused in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man almost two years ago.
Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the September 2013 death of Jonathan Ferrell. He faces a prison term of up to 11 years if he is convicted.
With references ranging from the Rev. Martin Luther King to the Bible, attorneys gave closing arguments.
Prosecutor Adren Harris told the jury that Ferrell never made threats to Kerrick, wasn't carrying any type of weapon and didn't try to break into a home as the defense has contended.
"All they're trying to do is demonize this young man, because it's easy to say this person deserved what they got when you muddy them up," Harris said.
Harris used a quote from King: "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity," to suggest the defense's story was based on lies.
Defense attorney George Laughrun said the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Kerrick used excessive force when he shot and killed Ferrell. He also chided the prosecution for attacking Kerrick over his inability to remember specific details when the shooting occurred.
"You don't remember nitpicky minor details when you just experienced the most tragic moment in your life," Laughrun said.
Laughrun also used slides to help bolster his argument, projecting them on the same TV screen that was used to play the dashcam video that showed Ferrell's final moments before he was fatally shot. The slides ranged from a list of Kerrick's character traits to a picture of Lady Justice.
Prosecutor Teresa Postell countered by saying the state had met the burden of proof needed to return a conviction.
"This case is about the defendant shooting an unarmed man 10 times," Postell said.
Judge Richard C. Ervin instructed the jurors, who asked for a lunch break before beginning their deliberations after hearing two weeks of testimony.
Prosecutors say Kerrick used deadly force when he shot and killed Ferrell. They say nonlethal force should have been used to subdue the former Florida A&M football player. Two officers with Kerrick didn't fire their guns. One of them drew their Taser, which failed to stop Ferrell.
Kerrick's attorneys say the officer feared for his life when he shot and killed Ferrell while responding to a breaking-and-entering call.