Sources: Patrol car video shows Ferrell was clearly unarmed

by: Mark Becker Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - On Monday night a second group of CMPD officers went to the training academy to hear why the department decided to charged Officer Randall Kerrick in the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell early Saturday morning.

Eyewitness News learned from various sources that Chief Rodney Monroe and detectives made a strong case, saying that video from one or more of the patrol cars shows that Ferrell was clearly empty handed as he approached officers.

At one point, Ferrell hiked up his pants, perhaps to show he had no weapons there either.

Sources said he ran out of the camera's view before officers yelled for him to stop and Kerrick fired the fatal shots.

Police confirmed on Monday that Kerrick had fired a dozen shots and that 10 of them hit Ferrell.

"And a lot of police training is you keep shooting until you feel the threat has been eliminated," said attorney Scott Maclatchie.

Maclatchie, a former police officer who represents officers sued after fatal shootings, said he was stunned by how quickly CMPD decided to charge officer Kerrick.

Police did consult with prosecutors before going ahead with the voluntary manslaughter charge, but the District Attorney's Office will do a full review of the case before deciding whether to indict officer Kerrick on a felony charge – a charge that could well bring prison time if he is convicted.

Ferrell's family spoke out Monday with an attorney by their side.

Jonathan Ferrell's mother, Georgia, wiped away tears and clung tightly to a stuffed animal as she answered questions about her son.

She said they talked about how much he was saving from work so he could pay to go back to school. Ferrell was employed at Best Buy.

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She said he was so happy when they spoke Friday evening.

Now, Georgia and her other children are in Charlotte with their attorney looking for answers from police about why Jonathan died.

"I was going to give it to his firstborn," Georgia said about the stuffed animal that once brought her son comfort.

She was holding onto it for the grandchildren he promised her down the road.

"That was the idea, to give it to his firstborn," she said.

But instead, she is looking for comfort as she tries to cope with Ferrell's death.

Georgia traveled from Florida to Charlotte with her children and their attorney Monday.

"I want my sons to bury me, I don't want to bury him," she said.

The family's attorney Chris Chestnut said they don't know where Jonathan was coming from or headed to Saturday morning.

"This is not someone who posed a threat to the officers or anyone else. This is an everyday American and that should be just as appalling and scary, intimidating and frightening for the public," Chestnut said.

But they believe he was just looking for help after a car crash.

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They said he was a kind man who wouldn't hurt anyone.

They want to know why Officer Randall Kerrick shot him and they have questions about his past and his training.

In the meantime, they said they are thankful Chief Rodney Monroe investigated and charged Kerrick so quickly.

"This is unprecedented to move to this swiftly and boldly, but it is appropriate," Chestnut said.

Despite the loss, Georgia has a message for that officer.

"You took a piece out of my heart that can never be put back, but I do forgive you. I truly forgive you," she said.

Ferrell's family met with Monroe on Monday evening. The family would not comment on what was said at the meeting, but were visibly upset.

Chestnut said they are now convinced even more than before that excessive force was used in the case.

He would not give specifics, but did say there's no indication Ferrell posed a threat saying he wasn't yelling or acting erratically.

The family said they appreciate the chief's time and are glad he acted quickly to investigate and charge Kerrick.

"It was very informative, the chief was very forthcoming. It's very clear this was a rogue officer, this was excessive force, an irrational act, unwarranted act, unjustified, inhumane," Chestnut said.

Channel 9 found that Ferrell had a previous criminal charge from 2011 when he was arrested on a charge of battery in Tallahassee, Fla.

He was 22 years old at the time. His bond was set at $500. It is not clear if he was ever convicted.

"While there is a criminal case pending, the City of Charlotte wishes to express its condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Jonathan Ferrell and also respects Officer Randall Kerrick's right to a fair investigation."


More details of shooting released:


Even though it was 2 a.m., sources told Channel 9 street lights provided enough light on Reedy Creek Road that Kerrick and two other officers could clearly see Jonathan Ferrell's hands with now weapons as he moved toward them.

Channel 9 was told Ferrell even hiked up his pants showing he had no weapons.

After one officer fired a stun gun, which police said did not work, Kerrick opened fire with as many as 12 shots and 10 of them hitting Ferrell, police said.


CMPD said evidence in the case revealed that Ferrell did advance on Kerrick however, the subsequent shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive and violated state law. 

Police officials said Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.

Channel 9 found a report that Kerrick filed after the shooting saying he was assaulted and had minor injuries, but it doesn't say how.

The decision to charge Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter stunned many at the police department.

On Monday afternoon, officers arrived at the police academy for what Channel 9 was told was a tense briefing by Monroe and detectives on their decision to file the charge.

The Fraternal Order of Police has hired an attorney to represent Kerrick and he is expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday.

Police had consulted the district attorney's office before signing the arrest warrant for Kerrick, but they will take a close look at all of the evidence before deciding whether to take the case to a grand jury.

2013: Three officer-involved shootings in Charlotte:

Channel 9 found that Kerrick has been an officer with CMPD since April 2011.

The other two officers at the scene Saturday morning were officer Adam Neal and Thornell Little.

Neal has been an officer with CMPD since May 2008. Little has been with the force since April 1998.

Both officers are on paid leave, which is standard procedure with officer-involved shootings.

In 2013, there have been at least three officer-involved shooting in Charlotte, all of them fatal.

In 2012, there were four shootings involving officers, two of them were fatal.

In 2011, there were two officer-involved shootings, neither of them were fatal.

Community's reaction to shooting

Police were back at the scene Monday looking for more clues.

Neighbors in the Bradfield Farms community want to know the same thing police do: What did Ferrell do that prompted Kerrick to shoot and kill him in the street.

“It’s hard to believe three officers and one man, unarmed, and something like this happens,” said neighbor Karen Rauss.

Police were back on Reedy Creek Road looking through the woods where Ferrell crashed his car.

Fifty yards up the road, nobody answered the door at the home where police said Ferrell pounded on the door looking for help.

Channel 9 saw CPI Security trucks and workers inside the home.  The police report said the homeowner hit her security alarm and called police Saturday morning.

Just across from the home, paint marks where three police cars parked when officers responded to that call and possibly where shell cases were found and bullets landed along with where Ferrell was shot and killed.

Tony Scrug said the race question is a valid one.

“Was he threatened by a black person or would he have shot a young white male in the same situation,” Scrug said.

Long after the paint fades, neighbors memories of that night will remain.

They want answers for Ferrell’s family and for the officer now accused of manslaughter.

“I thought it was a tragedy, but there are a lot of questions that needs to be answered before the police officer goes on trial,” Rauss said.