Associated Press Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An unarmed man seeking help after a car crash over the weekend was shot 10 times by the Charlotte police officer who’s now charged in his death, investigators said Monday.
A police news release said Officer Randall Kerrick fired 12 times at 24-year-old Jonathan A. Ferrell early Saturday while responding to a breaking and entering call. Ten of the bullets hit the former Florida A&M University football player.
Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter and is scheduled for a first court appearance on Tuesday.
At a news conference, family members said that Ferrell had moved to North Carolina to be with his fiancee about a year ago and was working two jobs. They said he was likely unfamiliar with the area he was driving when he crashed early Saturday.
Ferrell’s mother said she was praying for Kerrick.
“I truly forgive him. I pray for him. And I pray that he gets off the police force,” Georgia Ferrell said. “You took a piece of my heart that I can never get back.”
Georgia Ferrell and her son, Willie, traveled to Charlotte from Florida along with their attorney to meet with police officials.
Police determined the shooting was excessive and charged Kerrick on Saturday. A police statement Saturday said the investigation showed “Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”
The deadly encounter unfolded after police said the car Ferrell was driving crashed into trees off a northeast Charlotte road early Saturday. Police Chief Rodney Monroe has said the wreck was so severe that Ferrell would have had to climb out of the back window to escape.
Ferrell apparently walked about a half-mile to the nearest house and was “banging on the door viciously” to attract attention, Monroe said. Thinking it was her husband coming home late from work, the woman who lives there opened the door. When she saw Ferrell, she shut it and called police at about 2:30 a.m., Monroe said.
Monroe said he didn’t think the unarmed Ferrell made threats or tried to rob the woman.
Officers responding to the breaking and entering call found Ferrell nearby. Ferrell ran toward the officers, who tried to stop him with a Taser. Police said he continued to run toward them when officer Randall Kerrick fired his gun, hitting Ferrell 10 times. Ferrell died at the scene.
An attorney for Ferrell’s family, Chris Chestnut, applauded police for charging Kerrick quickly.
“To shoot first and ask questions later is not an appropriate action for a police officer,” Chestnut said at the news conference with the family.
Chestnut also has represented the family of Robert Champion, a FAMU drum major who died during a hazing ritual in November 2011.
Jonathan Ferrell played the safety position for the FAMU’s football team during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the school said.
Ferrell’s mother and brother didn’t say where he was working at the news conference.
“He taught me to be respectful to my mother, to my family. He was such a great person,” said his brother, Willie.