Friday ended the second week of testimony in the voluntary manslaughter trial of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick, who is accused of wrongfully killing Jonathan Ferrell in a late-night encounter in 2013.
For a review of the basic facts of the case and links to prior reports, scroll to the bottom.
4:50 p.m.: Officer Adam Neal’s interview describes shooting
Defense attorneys played a videotaped interview from 2013 of Officer Adam Neal, the third officer to arrive at the scene where Kerrick was shot and the one whose dashcam captured part of what happened. The other two officers – Kerrick and Thornell Little – did not have their dashcams on.
Neal said in the recorded interview that his view was somewhat obscured, but he described the shooting.
“(Kerrick) was backing up, firing,” he said. “The guy was still coming at him. He fired more shots. The guy was still coming at him.”
Court was recessed around 4:50 p.m., and is scheduled to resume Monday morning.
After two weeks of fast-paced testimony, the trial appears to be getting close to the end, and could go to the jury next week.
3:30 p.m.: First responders testify about Kerrick’s injuries
Officer William Parks, who arrived just after the shooting, described seeing Jonathan Ferrell lying face down in a ditch.
He said he separated the officers, and began securing the crime scene after handcuffing Ferrell. He also checked on Kerrick, who said he had been struck.
Chief Robert Honeycutt, a Charlotte firefighter who is also head of the Robinson Volunteer Fire Department, testified because he was a first-responder that night. He said Kerrick’s “lip was busted. He had blood coming from his mouth.”
But Honeycutt told defense attorney George Laughrun that the injury could have come from being struck or from Kerrick biting his lip.
Paramedic James Wilkinson testified that he noticed “a bit of swelling” on Kerrick’s cheek. He said Kerrick appeared anxious and had “dangerously high” blood pressure.
Wilkinson said he used a penlight to look inside Kerrick’s mouth and described a “dark red injury right inside his cheek.”
2:40 p.m.: Prosecutors try to point out inconsistencies, Kerrick finishes testimony
Prosecutor Teresa Postell continued to try to point out inconsistencies in what Kerrick told jurors this week and what he told homicide detectives in 2013 just a few hours after he shot Jonathan Ferrell.
Postell held up Kerrick’s uniform pants to show blood only at the bottom, after Kerrick testified that Ferrell was much higher up on him as they both were in a ditch.
Other points from Postell were smaller.
“You told Detective Morales that Jonathan was not running, that he was just moving faster,” Postell asked. “But you said today that he began running just a little bit faster.”
When questioning Kerrick’s actions, Postell also noted the extreme difference in the severity of wounds suffered by the two men. Ferrell had 10 gunshot wounds. Kerrick’s most serious injury was a cut inside his lip.
Kerrick finished testifying around 2:30 p.m.
Officer William Parks is on the stand. Parks was the first officer to arrive after the shooting and is the officer who handcuffed Ferrell as he lay face down in a ditch.
12:40 p.m.: Could Kerrick have stopped Ferrell without firing gun?
Prosecutor Teresa Postell pointed out that Kerrick had been trained to stop a suspect’s advance in an array of nondeadly ways – punching, kicking, using a baton or a Taser.
To illustrate the point, she pulled out his police equipment and piled the items in front of the witness stand where Kerrick sat.
“You were taught in class that it’s not OK to even use a Taser just because you feel someone might have a weapon, right?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.
Postell said the only way Ferrell could get help from Kerrick was to walk toward him, and asked Kerrick if it was unreasonable to expect Ferrell to stay still.
“If he was looking for help, he could have walked up to me or sat on the rock (near the street), or got on the ground when I asked him to get on the ground,” Kerrick said.
11:40: Prosecutors hone in on what happened during shooting
During cross-examination, prosecutor Teresa Postell spent nearly an hour questioning Kerrick about the shooting, which transpired in seconds.
She focused on what Kerrick said to Jonathan Ferrell and what the officer saw during the late-night encounter on a dark road in eastern Mecklenburg County.
“Jonathan never threatened you?” she asked. “He never said a word at all?”
“Not verbally, no,” Kerrick replied.
Postell also went back over what Kerrick was trained to do if another officer pulls a Taser on a suspect when it’s not clear whether the suspect is armed. Kerrick has said he was counseled that in such cases, he should pull out his gun to cover the officer.
“If someone else goes in with a Taser, you’re supposed to be hands free, so you can go in and assist?” Postell asked.
“You’re supposed to be the backup officer,” Kerrick said.
Postell also asked if Kerrick had heard his firearms instructor say that being unable to see the hands of someone charging is not a green light to shoot. Kerrick said yes, that was part of his training.
10:30 a.m. Prosecutors question Kerrick
Prosecutors began cross-examining Kerrick just before 10 a.m.
“On Sept. 14, 2013, you shot Jonathan Ferrell 10 times,” prosecutor Teresa Postell said.
“Yes, I did,” Kerrick replied.
Postell tried to point out inconsistencies between Kerrick’s testimony and what he told investigators in the hours after the shooting:
- Why didn’t he leave his dashboard camera on?
- Did Kerrick fire when Ferrell was 10 feet away as Kerrick told investigators in 2013? Or was it 3 to 5 feet, as Kerrick testified Thursday?
- Was another officer out of the car with a Taser pulled when Kerrick arrived or did the officer pull the Taser shortly afterward?
“I was in a fight for my life. I’m sorry if there are some inconsistencies,” Kerrick said.
10 a.m.: Kerrick says ‘absolutely nothing else I could have done’
Wiping away tears on the witness stand Friday morning, Kerrick told the jury he had no choice but to shoot Ferrell after another officer deployed his Taser.
“At the time, I thought the Taser had hit the suspect and it just didn’t stop him,” Kerrick said. “I didn’t know if he had a weapon on him at that time. I didn’t know if he had a weapon anywhere at all. He could have gotten to my weapon and taken it from me.”
Kerrick took the stand in his defense at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Prosecutors are expected to cross-examine him when defense attorney Michael Greene finished.
Under questioning, Kerrick also told jurors he learned his wife was pregnant four days after Ferrell was shot.
A jury will decide whether Kerrick used excessive force when he fired 12 shots at Ferrell, or whether he was justified because he thought Ferrell posed a deadly threat.
The 12-member jury has two people who are Latino, three African-American and seven white. Eight are women and four are men. The alternate jurors are all white, and consist of one man and three women.
If convicted, Kerrick faces three to 11 years in prison. He has been on unpaid suspension since the shooting.
According to police, Ferrell wrecked his fiancee’s car on his way home after an outing with friends and sought help at a house in a neighborhood east of Charlotte. The homeowner, afraid someone was trying to break in, called 911. Kerrick and two other officers responded, and the deadly confrontation ensued.
Ferrell, 24, had moved to Charlotte from Florida to be with his fiancee. He was a former scholarship football player for Florida A&M University. He was working at both Best Buy and Dillard’s at the time of his death.
To read reports from the second week of Kerrick’s trial:
To read reports from the first week of Kerrick’s trial:
Full transcript of CMPD interview with Kerrick in 2013.