TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- In Jonathan Ferrell’s hometown, the news of his shooting death by a Charlotte police officer appears to have drawn a universal response.
On Saturday, two weeks since the unarmed Ferrell died after being shot 10 times by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Randall Kerrick, the 24-year-old will be buried by family and friends.
Officer Randall Kerrick has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in connection with Ferrell’s death. The three-year Charlotte-Mecklenburg police veteran is the department’s first officer charged after an on-duty shooting in at least 30 years.
Kerrick, 27, is free on $50,000 bond. His attorney, George Laughrun, has said the shooting was justified.
Friday night, the mourners gathered at Bethel AME Church, not far from the college and high school where Ferrell impressed teachers, coaches and peers with his performance in the classroom and on the playing field.
Earlier in the day, Ferrell’s former coach and roommate from his playing days at Florida A&M University said they are trying to make sense of the shooting.
Head football coach Earl Holmes said Ferrell’s violent death amounts to a radical break in how his former player lived his life.
“That wasn’t Jonathan. He was a genuinely good person. He gave you everything he had,” Holmes said.
“...God doesn’t make any mistakes, I know, but a lot of times bad things happen to good people. ... I cannot grasp the fact that it was Jonathan.”
Ferrell died Sept. 14, shortly after Kerrick and two other officers responded to a frantic pre-dawn 911 call from a woman who said a man was trying to break into her house.
Ferrell had wrecked his car nearby in the same northeast Charlotte neighborhood and may have been knocking on the woman’s door to get help.
Police Chief Rodney Monroe said video from a dashboard camera in one of the officer’s cars shows Ferrell walking toward the police before running past one officer and toward Kerrick.
Chris Chestnut, the Ferrell family’s attorney, says police mishandled the scene and never clearly identified themselves or gave Ferrell time to respond to their commands before Kerrick opened fire.
Monroe said Kerrick’s response was excessive because Ferrell was clearly unarmed.
John Ojo, an A&M player and Ferrell’s roommate in 2010, said what he has heard about his old teammate’s death “doesn’t make sense.”
He described Ferrell as humble, easy-going, aggressive on the football field but never off of it.
That leaves Ojo with an unanswered question: “Why did he die the way he did?”