Former Florida A&M football player Jonathan Ferrell had just crashed his car and was seeking help last September when police officer Randall Kerrick shot him 10 times. The 24-year-old died. An investigation by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) where Kerrick was employed found that the shooting was “excessive” and “that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”
But on Wednesday, a grand jury announced that it will not indict Kerrick on voluntary manslaughter charges, and requested that the attorney general assigned to the case come back with lesser charges.
“We the Grand Jury respectfully request that the district attorney submit a bill of indictment to a lesser-included or related offense,” a note from a lead jury member said.
On September 14th of 2013, around 2:00 am, Ferrell crashed his car, pulled himself from the wreckage and walked to a nearby house seeking help. The woman inside called the police, believing Ferrell was trying to break in. Kerrick and two other officers arrived at the scene, and claimed that Ferrell was acting “aggressively,” particularly toward Kerrick, who fired off 12 rounds from his Smith & Wesson, 10 of which hit their intended target.
At the time, some suspected that Ferrell was intoxicated, but a toxicology report showed his blood alcohol level was below the legal limit.
The case is similar to that of Renisha McBride, a woman who was in a car crash in the Detroit area, but was shot in the face when she sought help at a nearby house. In both cases, a white neighbor assumed the worst of a black car crash victim. In both cases, the crash victim wound up dead by gunshot wound.
The attorney general responsible for Ferrell’s case, Roy Cooper, said that he plans to ask the grand jury to consider a manslaughter charge again. He cited low attendance on the day of the decision as a possible reason the jury chose not to indict Kerrick.
“It would be in the best interest of justice to resubmit this case to a full grand jury, which we plan to do as soon as possible,” Cooper said.
Meanwhile, Ferrell’s family is seeking justice on their own. They have filed a wrongful death suit against Kerrick, and are demanding the release of a dashboard camera video of the night of the shooting.