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What video shows is at dispute in Jonathan Ferrell shooting case

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/18/16/11/9bJuZ.Em.138.jpeg|255
    Courtesy of Gregory Boler -
    Jonathan Ferrell, 24, of Charlotte, who was a football player at Florida A&M University. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter after shooting the unarmed Ferrell in an eastern Mecklenburg County neighborhood early Saturday morning.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/18/16/11/4ENIc.Em.138.jpeg|240
    - MECKLENBURG SHERIFF's WEBSITE
    Randall Kerrick, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer, is charged with voluntary manslaughter.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/18/16/11/JkXhC.Em.138.jpeg|223
    JOHN D. SIMMONS - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
    CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe addressed the media on Saturday Sept. 14, 2013 at police headquarters in regards to an overnight fatal police shooting.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/17/21/38/1ikGQE.Em.138.jpeg|240
    MECKLENBURG COUNTY SHERIFF -
    Randall Kerrick, CMPD police officer charged in the fatal shooting of Jonathan Ferrell.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/17/21/38/WxNUf.Em.138.jpeg|204
    DAVID T. FOSTER III - dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
    Attorneys George Laughrun (left) and Michael Greene give a brief statement to the media outside of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse on September 17, 2013 after the first appearance proceedings for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer Randall Kerrick, accused of fatally shooting citizen Jonathan Ferrell on Saturday.David T. Foster III-dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

More Information

  • Family attorney: No warning before fatal shots
  • 911 call in Ferrell case (graphic language)
  • More information

    Excerpt from 911 Call

    About 2:46 a.m. Saturday. For more than 10 minutes, the frightened resident has been pleading with a 911 dispatcher for help and asking when police would arrive.

    DISPATCHER: OK, I’m showing officers should be there right now. They’re pulling up. Can you see them?...

    RESIDENT: Yeah, yeah. Oh my God, tell them to come. What should I do?

    (Male voice heard yelling outside, unintelligible)

    DISPATCHER: Where’s the officer? Can you see the officer?

    RESIDENT: Yeah, he got out of the car… Wait... There’s two cops, but one of them... Oh my God, where is he going? Why is he running? ... Why are they leaving? They’re leaving.

    DISPATCHER: They might have seen him, OK? They didn’t leave you. ... Don’t go out there. …

    Family attorney’s account, based on police video

    Chris Chestnut, attorney for Jonathan Ferrell’s family, gave this account based on his viewing of a police dashboard camera video.

    Ferrell was walking towards officers when he came into the dashboard camera’s view, Chestnut Police officers pointed their Tasers at Ferrell’s chest. “You see two laser beams right on his chest.”

    Chestnut said the footage showed Ferrell pulled his pants up higher than his waist level, which he interpreted as a move to show he had no weapons. Ferrell then started running away from the Taser’s red laser sights. Ferrell’s arms were outstretched in front of him, hands empty, Chestnut said.

    Ferrell ran out of the camera’s frame just before the shots.

    “There were no commands to stop, freeze, stop or I’ll shoot,” said Chestnut. He said the shots came in three quick volleys.



Lawyers for the police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man in northeast Mecklenburg said on Wednesday that Jonathan Ferrell did not comply with officers’ commands to get down before he was killed.

“(Ferrell) advanced toward the officers. His hands were not in the air,” said George Laughrun, attorney for Officer Randall Kerrick, speaking to reporters about what he saw in footage from a police cruiser’s dashboard camera.

“You see one of his hands partially behind his back, concealed as he … continued to advance. He was given three commands to ‘Get on the ground. Get on the ground.’ He did not. And Officer Kerrick backed up and then felt the need to deploy his service weapon.”

Laughrun’s description of the police video differs from what Ferrell’s family attorney had previously said – that police fired before yelling “Get down!”

Kerrick, 27, and in his third year with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, was charged with voluntary manslaughter after the early Saturday shooting, which has sparked outrage and gained national attention.

Police say Kerrick fired his gun 12 times, striking Ferrell 10 times.

On Tuesday, attorney Chris Chestnut said he and the Ferrell family viewed the dashcam footage and that it showed shots were fired before any warnings or commands were given.

“There were no commands to ‘Stop, freeze, stop or I’ll shoot,’ ” Chestnut told the Observer Tuesday. The first commands from officers, Chestnut said, came after the volley of bullets stopped.

But on Wednesday, Chestnut said he could not definitively say that officers didn’t issue commands before shots were fired because he was only allowed to view the video once.

“I honestly cannot tell you whether it was ‘Pow pow! Get down!’ or ‘Get down! Pow pow!’ ” he said.

Chestnut said any commands were issued so close to Ferrell’s shooting that “there was no time for him to react.”

The Observer shared Chestnut’s account with police Tuesday, but the department didn’t respond at the time and declined to comment to reporters on Wednesday.

The department has denied the Observer’s request for the dashcam video, saying the footage is part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Police Chief Rodney Monroe told the Observer’s editorial board on Tuesday that it didn’t matter whether Ferrell complied with officers’ commands or had his hands up.

It was clear that Ferrell was unarmed, Monroe said, and Kerrick’s decision to shoot was unlawful.

“Sometimes we have to put up our hands and use our nightstick and other things and sometimes just retreat to handle the situation,” Monroe told the editorial board. “It can’t automatically result in use of deadly force.”

Even if Ferrell – a 24-year-old former Florida A&M University football player – was physically larger than Kerrick, that didn’t justify shooting him, Monroe said. “We have women on the force outweighed every day. That doesn’t give them instant justification to use deadly force.”

In the comments to the editorial board, Monroe said an officer told Ferrell to stop before he was shot and killed, and that a Taser fired by a second officer missed Ferrell.

Monroe also told the editorial board that the first shots were fired from a distance of “a couple of feet,” and there was physical contact between Kerrick and Ferrell after the first shots had been fired.

The contact happened after the first shots were fired, Monroe said. He said police are still reviewing the evidence to determine if it “was actually an assault, or actually a man dying.”

The shooting happened around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Ferrell had crashed a Toyota Camry in the Bradfield Farms neighborhood in northeast Mecklenburg, police said. His family’s attorney says he looked for help at a home about one-quarter mile away.

A woman who answered the door thought he was a robber and dialed 911.

Kerrick responded with two other officers, Thornell Little and Adam Neal.

Kerrick, a former animal control officer who lives in Midland, was the least experienced of the three.

Portillo: 704-358-5041; Twitter: @ESPortillo Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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