Police Kill Unarmed Former Football Player Seeking Help After a Car Crash

The following post first appeared on Think Progress. 


Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) in North Carolina is facing charges of voluntary manslaughter after fatally shooting Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M football player who had apparently been seeking help after surviving a major car crash early Saturday morning.

CMPD officials called the shooting “excessive.” “Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter,” said CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe in a statement. “It’s with heavy hearts and significant regrets it’s come to this… Our hearts go out to the Ferrell family and many members of the CMPD family. This is never something easy.”

The Charlotte Observer reports that the car crash was so severe that Ferrell likely had to “pull himself out” of the wreckage. He then walked to the nearest house, about a half mile away, to seek assistance. But the local resident whose home Ferrell arrived at was frightened that he was attempting to burglarize her after not recognizing him.

The resident then made a 911 call and three officers arrived at the scene. According to police accounts, Ferrell, who is African-American, acted “aggressively” and charged towards the officers. Officer Thornell Little of the Hickory Grove division of the CMPD responded with an unsuccessful attempt to fire his Taser at Ferrell. Police say that when Ferrell continued to charge toward the police, 27-year-old officer Randall Kerrick discharged his weapon several times, eventually killing Ferrell.

Monroe said that he did not believe Ferrell had threatened the woman who placed the 911 call, and that Kerrick’s use of excess force was unwarranted, according to the Charlotte Observer. No signs of alcohol were found at the scene of the wreckage, although officials said an official toxicology report will take weeks.

While the FBI keeps detailed information on the numbers and types of crimes that are committed throughout the United States, there is no comprehensive tracking mechanism for police shootings. FBI spokespeople have said there is no mandate for them to keep such statistics and that it would take an act of Congress in order to establish a database. Congress, so far, has refused to ask for one.

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