The city of Charlotte, North Carolina has stopped paying the civil defense legal fees of Randall ‘Wes’ Kerrick, 28, the police officer charged with voluntary manslaughter in the September
14, 2013 shooting death of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell, reports WSOCTV.com.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Ferrell, a former Florida A&M football player who had recently moved to North Carolina to be with his fiancee, Caché Heidel, was in a serious car crash and after kicking out his back window, walked to a nearby cluster of homes and knocked on the first door for help.
A woman answered the door thinking it was her husband and immediately slammed it in Ferrell’s face before calling 911.
On the 911 tape released by the city, the woman can be heard sobbing to the dispatcher, begging them to hurry and telling them that her baby was in the house with her.
“He’s in his bed. I don’t know what to do. I can’t believe I opened the door…Please don’t let him get my baby,” she cried.
Kerrick was one of the responding officers and as they approached, Ferrell ran towards them for help. One of the officers allegedly tried to stop him with a Taser, but Ferrell continued to approach.
That is when Kerrick shot him 12 times, 10 of the bullets piercing his body.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe said that even if Ferrell didn’t stop running toward Kerrick, deadly force wasn’t justified.
Ferrell was unarmed, and both Monroe and Ferrell family attorney Chris Chestnut, who watched the dashboard video of the shooting, said that was clear. Chestnut said Ferrell had his hands outstretched, and they were empty.
“I can tell you this is what I saw: Absolutely, unequivocally, there were no words said, period, from any of the officers prior to Jonathan being hit with a stun gun, Chestnut said.
“He’s not yelling at them. He’s not threatening them,” he said.
At one point, an officer yelled “get on the ground,” but it was hard to tell if it was right before or right after the first shot was fired, he said.
“But I can tell you that those shots were in such close proximity that Jonathan never had an opportunity to reply. He had bullets in him before he could ever hit the ground. So there was not sufficient warning. No one ever told him to stop. He didn’t have time to react,” he said.
The results of Ferrell‘s toxicology report proved that he was not under the influence of alcohol or any drugs when he was gunned down by Kerrick.
By mid-August, the city of Charlotte had paid nearly $21,000 in legal fees in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Jonathan Ferrell against Kerrick.
Citing a a two-page resolution from 1977, City Manager Ron Carleen explained why he decided to stop making payments, “A 1977 City Council policy provides that the City will not defend a lawsuit against an employee who willfully acted in a manner as to constitute a criminal act…I have decided that it would be inconsistent and untenable for the city to defend Officer Kerrick in the civil lawsuit due to the fact that CMPD charged Officer Kerrick with a crime.”
Kerrick’s criminal defense attorneys George Laughrun and Michael Greene released the following statement:
Officer Randall W. Kerrick swore an oath to serve and protect the citizens of this city. Since joining the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), his service has been steadfast and his service record has been nothing short of impeccable.
The city of Charlotte originally agreed to fund Officer Kerrick’s civil defense and has done so to date. There has been absolutely no change in circumstances that should have led our City Manager, Ron Carlee, and our City Counsel to this abrupt and politically motivated decision. Although on unpaid leave, Officer Kerrick is still employed by the city of Charlotte.
We fully intend to seek legal counsel for Officer Kerrick’s civil defense. Further, once the entire story is revealed in the criminal case, we are confident that justice will prevail and that a jury of his peers will also conclude that on September 14, 2013, Officer Kerrick acted in conformity with the rules and procedures of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department and with North Carolina state law. The shooting of Jonathan Ferrell was tragic, but justified.
On October 21, ESPN aired a special “Justice For Jonathan” report which featured interviews from Ferrell’s friends and loved ones, including his brother professional heavyweight boxer Willie Ferrell.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Kerrick “became the first Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer in at least 30 years to be arrested in connection with an on-duty shooting.”