by: Catherine Bilkey Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Officer Randall Kerrick's case is now in the hands of the state. The decision means the No. 1 prosecutor in the state will handle this already unprecedented case against the CMPD officer.
Eyewitness News talked with the state attorney general and asked if he will listen to demands by civil rights leaders to file even more severe charges against Kerrick.
"It's way too early to tell because we want our SBI agents to do an independent investigation," Attorney General Roy Cooper said. "Our attorneys will look carefully at all the laws and the facts and determine if other charges need to be brought."
Kerrick is facing a charge of voluntary manslaughter for shooting an unarmed man to death. After CMPD reported that Jonathan Ferrell was shot 10 times last Saturday, his family's attorney and the NAACP demanded charges be increased to murder.
It is unusual for an on-duty officer to be charged criminally. Cooper said his investigators will handle the case carefully and objectively.
"This is certainly a tragic situation for Jonathan Ferrell, his family and the community," Cooper said. "And it's important that we look at this impartially, look at the law and the facts, and make decisions only on those."
Cooper stepped into the case Thursday after Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray asked him to take over. Murray was once a partner with attorneys representing Officer Kerrick. In a statement, his office said, "There is no actual conflict of interest," but "it is critical that the family of the victim, the defendant, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the . . . community have confidence that the case is handled objectively."
"We'll begin work on this case immediately, but we don't have a timeline at this time," Cooper said.
CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe sent a statement saying he supports the decision to have the state attorney general handle the case, and that the department will fully cooperate by "turning over all evidence collected during the investigation as the department has done in prior cases."