Thursday, April 19, 2018
Public safety

Family of former FAMU player killed by police question role of race

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An unarmed man seeking help after a car crash over the weekend was shot 10 times by the Charlotte police officer who's now charged in his death, investigators said Monday.

The release of the information supporting the voluntary manslaughter charge came at the end of a day that also included the first public remarks by victim Jonathan A. Ferrell's family.

A family attorney and representatives of the NAACP questioned whether race played a role in the shooting of the black man by a white officer.

Ferrell's family said the former Florida A&M University football player moved to Charlotte about a year ago to be with his fiancee and was working two jobs. He wanted to go back to school and eventually become an automotive engineer.

"You took a piece of my heart that I can never put back," said Ferrell's mother, Georgia Ferrell, as she clutched a stuffed Winnie the Pooh doll her 24-year-old son loved as a child.

A police news release said Officer Randall Kerrick fired 12 times at Ferrell early Saturday while responding to a breaking and entering call, hitting him 10 times.

Kerrick was scheduled for a first court appearance today on the voluntary manslaughter charge.

NAACP leaders gathered Monday to both praise police for quickly filing charges and to complain about how the shooting didn't surprise them considering portrayals of black men in popular culture and previous instances of racially inflected violence.

The encounter was set in motion around 2:30 a.m. Saturday when Ferrell's car ran off the entrance road to a sprawling suburban neighborhood some 15 miles from downtown Charlotte.

After crashing his car into trees, Ferrell kicked out the back window and headed up a hill to the first set of closely clustered houses he could see. He then started "banging on the door viciously" of a home to attract attention, police Chief Rodney Monroe said.

The woman inside answered, thinking it was her husband coming home late from work. When she saw Ferrell, she shut the door and called police.

Officers responding to the breaking and entering call found Ferrell on a road that only leads to the neighborhood's pool. Ferrell ran toward the officers, who tried to stop him with a Taser. Police said he continued to run toward them when Kerrick shot him.

Ferrell died at the scene.

Ferrell's mother said Kerrick had no business being a police officer if he couldn't react properly to a man who needed help.

"I truly forgive him," Georgia Ferrell said. "I pray for him. And I pray that he gets off the police force."

His family painted a picture of a bright man with an "infectious smile" who was always there for his brothers and sisters.

"He was a role model," his brother Frank said. "He had so much love in his heart. And he was always concerned about his family."

FAMU interim athletic director Michael Smith said Ferrell played safety for the school's football team during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Public records indicated that Ferrell began living in Charlotte early this year after moving from Tallahassee, home to FAMU.

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