A 24-year-old former FAMU football player was shot and killed by the police after surviving a car crash and seeking help. Jonathan Ferrell crashed his car into some trees in the wee hours of the morning in Charlotte, NC and it’s being reported that his car was totaled and in order to get out, he would have had to climb out of the back window. No one is sure what caused the crash, nor if Ferrell sustained any injuries.
However, once Ferrell walked a half-mile to the nearest house, seeking help, he banged on the door and was met with a fearful woman who called the police, thinking he was at first, he husband, then when she got a good look–a burglar. (Why would a burglar furiously knock on the door?) It’s being reported that three officers arrived at the woman’s house and Ferrell approached them and was instantly tasered. The taser didn’t stop the former athlete, so Officer Randall Kerrick (who joined the force in 2011) proceeded to shoot Ferrell. Twelve rounds were shot off and 10 struck Ferrell, killing him on the scene. Someone please show us the police training handbook, where it tells the officer to shoot first and ask questions later. We’ll wait.
Family attorney, Christopher Chestnut says, “From our review, the only sounds were the sounds of gunshots. There were no commands to stop. There were no commands to freeze; stop or I’ll shoot, police. I think this is a young man who probably was going toward the police officers, the same way if you were injured in a car accident and you saw red or blue lights, you’d run to help not death. He ran to help.”
Officer Kerrick has been charged with voluntary manslaughter, which in North Carolina means killing without malice using “excessive force” in exercising “imperfect self-defense. Reports claim this swift action has never been seen before. The family attorney, Chestnut, says it’s unprecedented for the police chief to move so swiftly and boldly by arresting the officer who shot 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell. But, Chestnut says it was the appropriate action.
While we’re glad justice is being served rather quickly, we still have to wait on the results of the trial. Kerrick turned himself in, but has been released on a $50,000 bond. His first hearing is scheduled for next Monday.
Our hearts go our to Ferrell’s family, especially his mother, Georgia Ferrell, who still can’t swallow the news that her son was murdered after surviving an awful accident. Georgia says, “Right now, I’m somewhat numb. If I can get him back, I would say I want him back. I want my son to bury me; I don’t’ want to bury him.”
This story stirs my soul. As a company, we’ve launched the #YourLifeMatters campaign after the devastating not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. We want young men of color to realize that their lives do indeed matter, despite the news spewing stories of shooting deaths at the hands of the authorities, White men and other men of color as well.
It’s tough to display the value in this message when all we keep seeing are the lives of our young men being treated as yesterday’s garbage–thrown out without regard. But if you can spread the word, your voice could be one of millions–spreading this heartfelt and much-needed message.