Mom says she forgives officer; Attorney questions officer's qualifications

by: Mark Becker Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The family of a man shot and killed by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer this weekend spoke out Monday with an attorney by their side.

Georgia and Willie Ferrell, the mother and brother of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell, held a press conference at the Ritz Carlton in uptown Charlotte along with attorney Chris Chestnut. They spoke about their devastation, and Chestnut praised the chief of police for acting swiftly to punish an officer that he believes should never have had a gun.

“This is a very heavy moment ... to lose a child so senselessly due to an officer, who likely should not have had a gun, who certainly should not have been on the streets of Charlotte that night, who acted with a lack of discretion, a lack of intelligence, a lack of discernment, a lack of humanity,” Chestnut said.

Chestnut said the family has spoken with representatives from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and plans to meet with Police Chief Rodney Monroe on Monday afternoon.

“We applaud the chief for acting swiftly. That was a bold move. It is unprecedented for a chief to move so quickly in not only suspending an officer, but arresting him,” Chestnut said. “You take away the badge from this officer, this was murder, this was manslaughter.”

A source told Eyewitness News that Ferrell was shot as many as 10 times.  The Mecklenburg County Medical Examiners office said a preliminary autopsy report shows Ferrell died from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest.

TIMELINE: Police details on officer-involved shooting

Ferrell’s family described him as an upstanding citizen who was working two jobs to put himself through school in order to become a businessman. He was also engaged to be married.

“He was one of the most magnificent individuals I ever came in contact with,” his brother said. “Jonathan was never the type of person to harm nobody.”

Ferrell’s mother said she wishes she could have her son back, but she forgives the shooter.

Ferrell was a former football player at Florida A&M University. Chestnut also represents the family of Robert Champion, the FAMU drum major who was hazed to death in 2011, and the family of Devante Tisdale, the Charlotte teen who snuck into the wheel well of a US Airways plane and died in 2010.

Police said Ferrell was shot to death by an officer early Saturday morning. Ferrell had gone to an east Charlotte home seeking help after he was in a car crash. The resident called 911, and when officers arrived they said Ferrell charged at them. One officer fired a Taser to stop him, and when he continued, Officer Randall Kerrick fired shots at Ferrell.

Ferrell was pronounced dead at the scene. Following a CMPD investigation, Kerrick, 27, was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

“It is our understanding that Mr. Ferrell did nothing wrong,” Chestnut said. “He did not pose a threat to the safety or the life of the officer, or any of the officers, involved as highlighted by the fact that only one officer shot, three officers responded.”

Chestnut said he does not know whether the shooting reflects any racial bias, but he believes it was the result of poor decision making.

“Perhaps we need to stop, pause, regardless of race and become more sympathetic to each other,” he said.

Kerrick is scheduled to make his first appearance in court Tuesday. He has been appointed an attorney by the Fraternal Order of Police. Kerrick was hired by CMPD in 2011.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has offered its sympathy to the family. Monroe also spoke about Kerrick's state of mind.

“He is pretty shook up behind it. He's devastated behind it,” Monroe said.

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