The family of the 24-year-old former football player who was shot by police while seeking help after surviving a car crash filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Monday. The family says the lawsuit is meant “to root out cowards who use a badge.”
Jonathan Ferrell, a former student at Florida A&M University who had recently become engaged, got into a bad car accident around 2 a.m. on September 14. After he managed to get out of the car, he walked to the nearest house to seek help and knocked on the door. The woman who lived there called the police once she saw Ferrell, saying he was trying to break in. Upon arrival, Officer Randall Kerrick shot the unarmed man ten times.
The Ferrell family’s wrongful death suit targets Kerrick, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief, and the city of Charlotte. While the family is seeking damages, they say they are also suing to try to force the police to turn over records and footage from Kerrick’s dashboard camera, which have been kept from the public.
At a news conference, attorney Chris Chestnut made it clear that the family saw Ferrell’s death as part of an endemic problem in the police department. The suit, he said, is “an effort to get answers…to take a closer look at who we give a badge and a gun, who we trust to be a police officer.”
Unlike many other officers who have escaped criminal penalty after killing unarmed people, Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter the day after the shooting. His case will go before a grand jury next week.