TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Two weeks after he was fatally shot by a Charlotte police officer, Jonathon Ferrell was buried Saturday, eulogized as a son and brother, athlete and scholar who inspired others without drawing attention to himself.
The celebration of music and prayer lasted more than two hours, drawing in excess of 500 people to the Old West Florida Enrichment Center, not far from where Ferrell grew up.
A series of ministers told the family and others gathered how the 24-year-old Ferrell had inspired them. A former teammate from Ferrell’s high school football team described how Ferrell helped turned his peers into better players and people.
“It matters what you do while you’re here. Jon is a role model for black men, young black men, all across America,” said Leo Jackson, who played with Ferrell in 2006 when the Florida A&M Developmental Research School won a state championship.
“There is not substitute for hard work. That’s what Jon believed.”
There was no mention of how Ferrell died, other than occasional allusions to the questions still surrounding it. On Sept. 14, Ferrell was shot 10 times by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Randall Kerrick. He was unarmed, and Kerrick, 27, was quickly charged with voluntary manslaughter.
The case – the first charges involving an on-duty shooting by a Charlotte officer in more than 30 years – will be handled by the attorney general’s office. Kerrick’s lawyer has called the shooting death tragic but justified.
Much of Ferrell’s funeral was upbeat, with a rollicking choir and solo performances that had the crowd swaying, clapping and singing along.
After Jackson spoke, he called for Ferrell’s other high school teammates on hand, including Ferrell’s younger brother Willie, to join him at the front of the church. The group huddled, swayed, chanted Ferrell’s name, then broke to audience applause.
When his family entered the sanctuary, Ferrell’s mother, Georgia, was near the front. She wore a black veil and carried a Winnie the Poo doll, her dead son’s favorite during childhood.
“This ain’t the end of the story,” the Rev. Chris Burney said to the family and their supporters. “Somebody gonna have a family reunion after a while.”