Officer not indicted in Jonathan Ferrell's fatal shooting

Officer not indicted in Jonathan Ferrell's fatal shooting

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by WCNC.com Staff

WCNC.com

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 22 at 12:34 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A partial grand jury has decided not to indict Officer Randall Kerrick for the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell.

Kerrick was accused of voluntary manslaughter following the fatal shooting of former Florida A&M football player, Jonathan Ferrell, in September. Authorities have said Kerrick fired 12 shots, 10 of which hit Ferrell.

The case went before a partial panel on Tuesday for the charge of voluntary manslaughter. The true bill of indictment was returned with a “no” when the grand jury members were asked if Officer Kerrick did, against state law, feloniously kill and slay Ferrell.

In a rare move, the jury attached a handwritten note asking the District Attorney to file a lesser charge against Kerrick. 

Kerrick's attorney, George Laughrun, said he felt the Grand Jury made the right decision, "It's obviously extremely happy for he and his wife and whole family."

Ferrell family attorney Christopher Chestnut told NBC Charlotte by phone that the family was shocked by the decision.

"I would describe it as suffocating.  how do you describe that to a mom? This man emptied a clip into her son and now I have to tell her there's no indictment.  If the jury had seen that dash cam video not only would there have been an indictment for manslaughter, but likely for a greater charge," said Chestnut.  Neither Kerrick's attorneys nor Chestnut know what evidence was presented to the grand jury. 

Attorney General Roy Cooper issued a statement directly after the decision saying he wants to resubmit this case to a full grand jury, and plans to do so as soon as possible.

Cooper tweeted Tuesday evening his office did not know ahead of time it was not a full grand jury.

Local attorney Melissa Owen offered some perspective on the case to NBC Charlotte. She said the attorney general’s decision to resubmit the voluntary manslaughter charges voids the partial grand jury’s decision. Twelve of the 18 members that make up a full grand jury must agree to the charges presented. For whatever reason, whether it is an illness or something else, there were not 18 people present for the decision Tuesday. It is not known how many people were on the panel.

"There must have been something with how it was decided that the Attorney General believes with one or two more jurors it will change," said Owen. 

Ferrell crashed a Toyota Camry in the Bradfield Farms neighborhood in northeast Mecklenburg on the day of the shooting, police said. His family’s attorney says he looked for help at a home about one-quarter mile away.

A woman who saw him at the door thought he was a robber and dialed 911.

Kerrick was joined by Officers Thornell Little and Adam Neal. Kerrick, a third-year officer, was the least experienced of the three. Kerrick confronted Ferrell and shot him 10 times.

A civil suit filed by Ferrell's family is still pending.

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