Family wants answers in shooting death of son

Credit: Courtesy of Gregory Boler

Jonathan Ferrell


by DIANA RUGG / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @DianaRuggwcnc

Posted on September 16, 2013 at 1:28 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 16 at 8:05 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The family of a man shot to death by police Saturday in eastern Mecklenburg County has hired a prominent Florida attorney to represent them, and they spoke publicly for the first time since the shooting on Monday morning.
Christopher Chestnut and the mother and brother of Jonathan Ferrell, 24, addressed the media at 11 a.m. in uptown Charlotte. 

Ferrell is a former Florida A&M football player who was shot and killed by a police officer while seeking help after a car accident early Saturday morning.

Ferrell's family said they want to know all the facts before they make anymore decisions, but did say a lawsuit is possible.

"To shoot first and ask questions later is not an appropriate action for a police officer," Chestnut said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said Monday afternoon their investigation thus far revealed 12 shots were fired by Officer Kerrick, 10 of which struck Ferrell.

Authorities continued that their investigation has shown Officer Kerrick did not have "a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter".

Chestnut also represents the family in another high-profile case involving a FAMU student -- that of Robert Champion, the band leader who died during a hazing incident in 2010.

Ferrell's brother said Jonthan was a hard worker, had two jobs in Charlotte and moved to the area to be with his fiancée.

"He was so happy, talking about money he was making to put himself through school," his mom said when she last spoke to him on Friday afternoon.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police believe Ferrell wrecked his car on Reedy Creek Road around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, then banged on the door of a nearby home for help.  The woman in the home called police to report a man was trying to break in.
Police encountered Ferrell about a block away from the home, and one officer shot and killed Ferrell during the encounter.  Police said Ferrell was running towards officers. 
Saturday evening, police charged officer Randall Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter for the shooting.  He bonded out of custody by late Saturday night.
Friends and family at Ferrell's uptown Charlotte townhome declined to comment about the case over the weekend, but a former FAMU teammate of Ferrell's had only kind words to share about him Sunday.
"A really quiet guy, really nice guy, really humble," said Gregory Boler, Jr., who played linebacker on the team with Ferrell in 2009.  "Just a really good guy."
Boler described Ferrell as quiet, "not outspoken," and even "submissive with authority," citing the example of how Ferrell always listened to coaches in an effort to work harder and be a better player.
He was devastated to hear about what happened.
"I couldn't believe anything like that could happen to Jonathan.  I just didn't see that happening," he said.

"It's not like he was an individual that was always into some kind of trouble."
Boler said he can't imagine Ferrell being aggressive with officers, or threatening them.  He doesn't understand why deadly force was used to subdue him.
"There's no way three policemen cannot handle one unarmed individual, so it just didn't make any sense at all," he said.
Boler said he believes that voluntary manslaughter charges for the officer who fired the fatal shots are a move in the right direction, but he won't be satisfied until the case goes to trial. 
Until then, his memories are of the "do the right thing guy," but his thoughts are with Ferrell's family.
"I pray more for his family, and his brother who played linebacker with me, Willie," he said. "I know all of them are hurting from this."

The ACLU-NC released the following statement on the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell on Monday:

The fatal shooting of Jonathan Ferrell by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer is profoundly tragic and deeply disturbing. As Chief Monroe stated this weekend, it is clear that the officer in question used excessive force. This tragic incident is a powerful reminder of why the citizens of Charlotte must have access to effective tools that will provide civilian review of police conduct and promote accountability within the department. There are two actions that Charlotte officials should take, without delay, to increase civilian oversight and make officers more accountable to the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect: First, the city should take immediate steps to reform its ineffectual Citizens Review Board, which in 15 years has held only four hearings and never once ruled against the police department or for a citizen complainant. Second, officials should treat any footage taken by the cameras now being worn by some CMPD officers to record their interactions with citizens as a public record and make these recordings accessible to the public. The citizens of Charlotte must be allowed to review the actions of their police officers in meaningful ways that will provide oversight, hold appropriate parties accountable, and make everyone in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area safer and more secure.