Criminal Justice

Cop accused of shooting ex-football player after car accident is charged with voluntary manslaughter

A North Carolina police officer appears in court Tuesday on a voluntary manslaughter charge stemming from the fatal shooting of a black, former college football player who was apparently seeking help after a car accident.

Charlotte police officer Randall Kerrick, who is white, was charged in the Saturday shooting death of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell, report the New York Times and the Charlotte Observer. Police say Kerrick fired 12 times when Ferrell ran toward him and two other officers. Ferrell died after he was hit by 10 of the bullets. Above the Law comments in a story headlined, “Crashing Your Car and Seeking Help While Black Is Apparently a Capital Offense.”

Police were in the area as a result of a 911 call by a woman who said someone was “banging on the door viciously,” according to Police Chief Rodney Monroe. The woman opened the door, expecting to see her husband coming home from work, and called police when she saw Ferrell.

Ferrell had knocked on the door, apparently seeking help after his car crashed into an embankment, the stories say. Kerrick opened fire after another officer fired a stun gun at Ferrell. Police say the Taser didn’t strike Ferrell.

A lawyer for Ferrell’s family, Christopher Chestnut, said at a news conference on Monday that the family wants more information about Kerrick’s training and qualifications, according to the Charlotte Observer account. “We’re planning to get answers,” Chestnut said. “If that requires a lawsuit, then we will.”

Civil rights advocates say the incident illustrates the need to give more power to a civilian board that reviews police discipline and excessive force. Out of 79 cases reviewed by the board, none resulted in a ruling against police, according to a Charlotte Observer investigation. In most cases, the board didn’t even conduct a hearing, the story says.

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