Ferrell family alleges CMPD's pattern of excessive force

Ferrell family alleges CMPD's pattern of excessive force

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by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on January 14, 2014 at 7:13 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 14 at 8:49 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The family of an unarmed man shot and killed by a CMPD officer in September filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday alleging wrongful death, excessive force and gross negligence.

It names local government, plus CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe, Officer Randall Kerrick and a series of failures that led to the death of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell.

A path to justice and an attempt to get answers is how Jonathan Ferrell's family describes the lawsuit.

"I feel I shouldn't be here. My son was only here for an education, to better his life,” said mother Georgia Ferrell.

The former college football player died Sept. 14.

Ferrell crashed his car on Reedy Creek Road in the middle of the night after giving a friend a ride home from a restaurant. He couldn't find his cell phone after the wreck, so he walked up to a house and knocked on the door seeking help.

The woman inside the house called 911. Minutes later, CMPD Officer Randall Kerrick shot Ferrell ten times. His dead body arrived at the coroner’s office handcuffed.

"We also have an unrelenting passion and duty to root out cowards who use a badge as an excuse for cold blooded murder,” said family attorney Christopher Chestnut.

The lawsuit alleges Ferrell posed no threat to anyone, including police, when Kerrick shot him.

An autopsy revealed any one of five of the ten gunshots that hit Ferrell could have been lethal.

Attorneys say officers issued commands to Ferrell, but gave him no time to react.

"They were not timely. No reasonable human could have reacted,” Chestnut said.

Attorneys want the dash cam video released, saying it will prove that. A judge ruled against it.

The lawsuit also alleges Officer Kerrick wasn’t properly trained, he failed to adhere to use of force policies, failed to protect Ferrell, who was injured in the car crash, and blames Kerrick and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

"Clearly this is a rogue officer. The question is how does a rogue officer get onto the police force?  How does he get a gun and a badge?  How does an animal control officer who is obviously trigger happy become a police officer with CMPD?”

"I pray they get the proper training. I pray they don’t kill anyone else's child,” Ferrell said.

The lawsuit reflects what the family says is pattern of excessive force by CMPD dating back to 1996. It claims the department’s handling of those cases varies widely depending upon who files the complaint. According to the suit, a little more than a quarter of the complaints filed by the public lead to findings of misconduct compared to 85 percent of complaints filed by CMPD.

Officer Kerrick is charged with manslaughter in Ferrell’s death. His case goes before a grand jury later this month.

Charlotte City Attorney Bob Hagemann issued this statement about the lawsuit:

"The civil lawsuit filed by Mr. Ferrell's estate against the city, Officer Kerrick and Chief Monroe was expected. In light of the pending criminal charges against Officer Kerrick, it would be inappropriate to comment on the lawsuit other than to reiterate the city's and Chief Monroe's expression of sympathy for Mr. Ferrell's family.”

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