ESPN presented its take on the 2013 shooting of Jonathan Ferrell to a national audience Tuesday night on its investigative program, E:60.
The report, called “Justice for Jonathan,” was produced by Beein Gim, an Emmy Award winner, and featured reporter Lisa Salter, a frequent E:60 contributor and the sideline reporter on Monday Night Football.
The ESPN team spent several days in Charlotte interviewing subjects for the program, including Ferrell’s girlfriend Caché Heidel. The show was pegged to an upcoming championship fight for Willie Ferrell, his brother and former teammate at Florida A&M and now a professional heavyweight boxer.
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Ferrell, a former Florida A&M football player, was shot to death Sept. 14, 2013. CMPD Officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick was arrested the same day and charged with voluntary manslaughter in connection with Ferrell’s killing.
Ferrell, who was unarmed, had wrecked his car around 2 a.m. after taking a co-worker home and had gone to a nearby a house, apparently searching for help. A woman inside called 911, saying an unknown man was trying to break into her home.
Kerrick and two other CMPD officers answered the call. When Ferrell ran up to them, one of the officers fired his Taser. But only Kerrick pulled his gun. Ferrell was shot 10 times from close range. Toxicology reports showed that he had been drinking but was not drunk, and there was no sign of marijuana or any other drug. As he approached the officers in the moments before his death, police say Ferrell ignored several commands to stop and get on the ground.
Kerrick became the first Charlotte police officer in at least 30 years to face criminal charges for an on-duty shooting. He faces his first court date in December.
Chris Chestnut, one of the family’s attorneys in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Kerrick, police, and city and county government, has called Ferrell’s death “a murder.”
Kerrick’s attorneys, George Laughrun and Michael Greene, will not appear in the program. They said Thursday that they told the network they could not comment on a pending case because of ethical reasons.
“We have stated from the beginning that we are trying this case in the courtroom, not the media,” Laughrun said. “We told ESPN that while the shooting was tragic, it was totally justified under the facts and the law in North Carolina.
“That is and will be our entire comment.”
ESPN was the second major sports media heavyweight to wade in on the Charlotte shooting. In April, Willie Ferrell and his brother’s death was the cover story in “Sports Illustrated.”