CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jonathan Ferrell, a 24-year-old North Carolina man, suffered a severe late-night car crash. His car slipped into a ravine. He had to kick his way out the back windshield.
He managed to get out of the car and go to a nearby home, where he knocked on the door repeatedly for help.
When police arrived, he approached them — and one shot him repeatedly, killing him on the spot.
Now the officer is charged with manslaughter. Police say he had no cause to shoot Ferrell.
The incident over the weekend has sparked outrage.
“We’re going to file the necessary legal actions to ensure that we get the answers that this family deserves, that America deserves,” the man’s brother, Willie Ferrell, said on Monday. “This was an unwarranted, inhumane shooting.”
In an interview with CNN’s “New Day,” Ferrell’s mother, Georgia, described her son as “very, very happy,” outgoing, and loving to his friends and family.
He held down two jobs and would call her every morning to talk for about an hour.
“I can’t even think of a bad thing he had done,” she said.
Ferrell, a former football player for Florida A&M University, was transferring to a school in Charlotte to be with his fiancee.
Willie Ferrell called his brother the “greatest man I ever came in contact with.”
“This is an all-American young man who survived a horrific accident. He is crying for help and is showered with bullets,” Chris Chestnut, attorney for the Ferrell family, said on “New Day.”
Officer first tried stun gun, police say
Police say a homeowner called 911, saying a man was knocking on her door repeatedly.
Officers responded to what they believed was a “breaking and entering” call.
Police say that when they got to the scene, a man matching the caller’s description ran toward them.
One of the officers fired his stun gun. When that was “unsuccessful,” another officer opened fire, police said.
Later, police learned of the car crash.
“It was a pretty serious accident,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe told WSOC.
Officer free on bond
Police have charged Officer Randall Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter, a felony. He was released Sunday on $50,000 bond.
Kerrick was one of three officers at the scene, but he was the only one to use a gun, firing it several times, police said.
“The evidence revealed that Mr. Ferrell did advance on Officer Kerrick and the investigation showed that the subsequent shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive,” police said in a statement. “Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”
A charge of voluntary manslaughter means the person used excessive force in self-defense, or carried out the act without intent to kill.
At a news conference, Monroe said, “Our heart(s) go out to the family” and to members of the police force. “This is never something easy.”
Kerrick has not made a public statement.
Chestnut praised police for quickly charging the officer. Still, he said, many questions remain.
“Why was this officer even with a badge and having a gun? What are the policies and procedures? What is the training that would allow an officer to act so irrationally, so inhumanely?”
Attorney: Unclear whether race involved
Chestnut said he does not know whether race played any role in the incident. Ferrell was black; Kerrick, white.
“I think this is poor decision making,” Chestnut said at a news conference Monday. “I think this is more a reflection of where we are as a country.” Regardless of race, people should be “more sympathetic” to each other, he said.
He added, “Before we assign race to this issue, perhaps we should pause and consider violence.”
Ferrell was “an everyday American,” Chestnut said.
Civil rights organizers held a news conference about the case Monday.
Kojo Nantambu, president of the NAACP’s Charlotte branch, called for Kerrick to be charged with murder.
There’s a “tradition in this country to be able to kill innocent black men,” he said.
The incident took place the same weekend that police in New York City accidentally injured two bystanders while trying to shoot an “emotionally disturbed” man who mimicked shooting a gun at officers, authorities say.