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NAACP wants stronger charge against officer in unarmed man’s shooting death

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

A week after a police officer was accused of shooting and killing an unarmed man, the Charlotte NAACP called for a stronger charge against the officer and better training on use of force by police.

About 25 people attended a 30-minute rally in Marshall Park in uptown Charlotte on Saturday, dodging light rain and chanting “No justice, no peace.”

“It’s barbaric when you train your officers to shoot to kill and to kill no matter what,” said Kojo Nantambu, the president of the Charlotte chapter of the NAACP. “The killing of Jonathan Ferrell was not only murder, it was murder with extreme prejudice.”

Ferrell, who is black, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by Officer Randall Kerrick, who is white, in northeast Mecklenburg on Sept. 14.

Kerrick has been charged with voluntary manslaughter and suspended. Police said they consulted with prosecutors before filing the charge.

Kerrick’s attorney says the shooting was justified.

Kerrick fired his service weapon 12 times, police have said, striking Ferrell 10 times.

Nantambu said the case also shows why the city needs to strengthen the Citizens Review Board, which can examine police discipline when an officer is accused of using excessive force.

A Charlotte City Council committee that’s evaluating the makeup and function of the board meets at 11:45 a.m. Monday.

New to Charlotte

Jonathan Ferrell played safety on Florida A&M University’s football team, and moved to Charlotte to be closer to his fiancée and finish college, his family has said.

He was working two jobs – at Best Buy and at Dillard’s – as he saved money for his tuition.

He had no criminal record. An earlier misdemeanor charge had been dismissed.

His family’s attorney hasn’t said what Ferrell was doing on the Saturday he died, or offered any details about what brought him to the Bradfield Farms neighborhood in northeast Mecklenburg, a half hour from his center city townhouse.

The shooting happened around 2:30 a.m. Ferrell had crashed a Toyota Camry into a grove of trees, police said. He likely had to kick out the back window of his mangled car to climb out, police said. It was unclear whether he was injured, or how badly, but he walked about a quarter mile to a house, apparently looking for help.

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

Eleven minutes later, 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.

CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe says video from a police dashboard cameras shows Ferrell was clearly unarmed and Kerrick’s use of force was unlawful.

An attorney for Kerrick, however, said the video shows officers warned Ferrell before he was shot.

Police say one of the three officers “unsuccessfully” deployed his Taser.

Police say Ferrell then moved toward Kerrick, who pulled his gun and fired.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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