• Civil rights group hopes to spread Jonathan Ferrell's story during CIAA

    By: Tenikka Smith


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A local civil rights group is reaching out to celebrities in town for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, asking them to use their influence to support family of Jonathan Ferrell.
    Ferrell was unarmed when he was shot by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Officer Randall Kerrick in September 2013. Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter and is awaiting trial.
    John Barnette, founder of True Healing Under God, hopes to get celebrities to their voices to spread the word about the Ferrell's death.
    The group is contacting musicians, comedians and other celebrities in town for the CIAA tournament, giving them information about the Ferrell case and asking for their support.
    "Anything we need in reference of getting the message out and supporting the Ferrell family to make sure we go forth with a full conviction," Barnette said.
    Three of those artists -- K. Michelle, Rich Homie Quan and T.I. -- will be performing at Caviar nightclub, which is owned by Joseph Guzman and wife.
    "I got a special place in my heart for families that go through this,” Guzman said.
    Guzman made national headlines in 2006 after he and his two friends, Sean Bell and Trent Benefield, were shot at 50 times outside a nightclub in Queens by New York City police. 
    "I got shot 16 times. I still got four bullets in me," said Guzman.
    Bell was killed, just one day before his wedding. Three of the officers involved were indicted for manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment, but were acquitted of all charges.
    The city of New York paid more than $7 million to settle a civil suit brought on by the victims.
    "It's going to happen again.  It's just a matter of time and every time I see it, I'm bitter about it. I relive it,” Guzman said.
    Guzman hopes the celebrities visiting his club will help raise awareness about the Ferrell case and push for accountability from police officers across the country.
    Channel 9 contacted Kerrick's attorney George Laughrun, but he had no comment.
    The president of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police Tom Walther said he's concerned about what type of information Barnette's group may give to celebrities to try to solicit their support. 
    Walther said the true facts of the Ferrell case have not been released and won't come out until trial.

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