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City of Charlotte reaches settlement with CMPD Officer Randall Kerrick

Randall "Wes" Kerrick and his wife Carrieexit the courtroom after Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin declared a mistrial in the voluntary manslaughter trial of CMPD Officer Randall "Wes” Kerrick in Charlotte, Friday, August 21, 2015.
Randall "Wes" Kerrick and his wife Carrieexit the courtroom after Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin declared a mistrial in the voluntary manslaughter trial of CMPD Officer Randall "Wes” Kerrick in Charlotte, Friday, August 21, 2015. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

The city of Charlotte announced Thursday that it has reached a financial settlement with Randall “Wes” Kerrick, the police officer who fatally shot Jonathan Ferrell in 2013.

Under the settlement, Kerrick is no longer a police officer. His resignation was effective Oct. 2.

The city’s total payout is $179,989.59. Kerrick will receive nearly $113,000 in back pay. An additional $16,000 goes to Social Security and Kerrick’s retirement, according to a statement from the city. And the city will pay $50,630.80 to the attorney who represented Kerrick in a civil suit brought by Ferrell’s family.

The agreement prevents Kerrick from filing future claims against the city and also prevents Kerrick from disclosing non-public information about the city. The city has not paid anything for Kerrick’s criminal defense.

Kerrick was tried earlier this year on a voluntary manslaughter charge, but a jury was unable to reach a verdict. Eight jurors were in favor of acquitting Kerrick, and four believed he was guilty. With the jury hopelessly deadlocked, Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin declared a mistrial. About a week later, the N.C. Attorney General’s Office decided not to re-prosecute the case.

Thursday’s move by the city frustrated Ferrell’s family and local activists, who have called for a stronger punishment for Kerrick.

Georgia Ferrell said Kerrick should not have been compensated for killing her son.

“I know he doesn’t deserve it, but I can’t do anything about it. Let them go ahead and pay him.”

Kerrick shot Ferrell 10 times during an early morning encounter in the Bradfield Farms neighborhood near Charlotte’s eastern edge. Prosecutors said Kerrick ignored his police training and acted out of fear. Kerrick testified that he fired his gun as Ferrell aggressively ran toward him.

In a statement, Kerrick’s attorneys, George Laughrun and Michael Greene, said their client never did anything wrong.

“As we have stated from the outset of this case, (Kerrick’s) actions on September 14, 2013, were justified under CMPD policy and North Carolina law,” the statement said. “Our belief was confirmed by the majority of the jurors during his criminal trial. It is also evident in the Attorney General’s decision not to retry the criminal case. Wes Kerrick and his family look forward to new endeavors and are eager to place this tragic chapter of their lives behind them.”

Ferrell was black, and Kerrick is white, and the case fueled racial tensions and drew the city into the national debate about whether police officers are too quick to use deadly force against blacks. Minutes after the mistrial was declared, protesters held a die-in on a street outside the courthouse. Demonstrators roamed city streets later that day.

Jibril Hough, a local activist who has organized demonstrations against the department and called the fatal shooting an excessive use of force, said the settlement was a slap in the face.

“Not only is he getting away with murder, but now they’re paying him for it,” Hough said. “It’s bad enough that he can’t get any type of retrial, they’re justifying what he did to Jonathan Ferrell by paying (Kerrick).”

In May, the city settled with Ferrell’s family for $2.25 million.

Georgia Ferrell said her family and their attorneys still hope that federal charges will be brought in the case.

“We’re still fighting. We’re still praying,” she said from her home in Tallahassee, Fla. “We want to go higher because we know we did not get a fair trial.”

Cleve R. Wootson Jr.: 704-358-5046, @CleveWootson

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