Wednesday morning, 613 days after a Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer shot and killed an unarmed Jonathan Ferrell, the city of Charlotte’s settlement check arrived in Florida.
“There is no amount of money that can bring my child back to me,” said Jonathan’s mother, Georgia Ferrell. “There is no amount of money can replace me missing him. So this money – only thing this settlement can do is make me work even harder, work more, be more focused on what I need to do to help others.”
WBTV went to Tallahassee, Fla., where the Ferrell family lives, to talk with Jonathan’s mother and brother about the settlement and the family’s plans for the future.
“Money will never bring back my brother,” Willie Ferrell told WBTV, the Observer’s media partner. “We just hope we get justice, and a lot of other lives don’t be taken like my brother.”
(Watch WBTV’s full interview with the Ferrell family at http://bit.ly/1HwkKHE.)
Police say on Sept. 14, 2013, Jonathan Ferrell had just crashed his vehicle when he knocked on a stranger’s door – apparently looking for help.
According to investigators, the homeowner called 911 to report a suspicious person. When officers arrived, police say Officer Randall Kerrick opened fire on Ferrell, hitting the unarmed 24-year-old 10 times, killing him.
Hours after the shooting, CMPD arrested Kerrick and charged him with voluntary manslaughter.
Kerrick’s defense attorneys says his client was acting in self defense because Ferrell kept advancing towards Kerrick, refusing orders to stop. They say Kerrick shot after another officer used his stun gun and missed Ferrell.
The criminal trial is scheduled to begin in July.
Last week the city of Charlotte, on behalf of CMPD and Kerrick, settled a federal lawsuit with the Ferrell family. The $2.25 million payment is the largest the city has paid for a CMPD case. City leaders said the settlement is not an admission of guilt.
Wednesday morning, when asked why she decided to settle, Georgia Ferrell said, “Why not? This point is over. Move on.”
Willie Ferrell said, “Of course I miss my brother, but I’ve never been angry. I always learned to forgive. And I’ve forgiven the officer. Officer Kerrick.”
Georgia Ferrell said she’s now focusing on working with communities and police to build better relationships.
“One thing I would like – for them to get to know who the people are,” she said of police. “Don’t stereotype when they see people, young men.”
Ferrell said she intends to work around the country. Charlotte would definitely be part of her outreach.
“I would love to spend some time, because we must come together to have peace, work together not just for the safety of the community but the safety of CMPD too.”
The retired teacher, whose daughter and son-in-law are officers and whose cousin is a sheriff, said she is not anti-police.
“Police aren’t all bad. They’re not bad,” she said. “There may be a few in there that are bad, but we clean that out and let the good go in.”
But, what happens to the planned outreach efforts now that Chief Rodney Monroe is retiring?
“If he’s not there, we’d still like to help the city,” Willie Ferrell said. “Chief Monroe has done a great job through the case with the family. We would still try to give back to the city and still try to help the youth.”
The family has started a Facebook page and a website. The foundation will be linked to those social media sites.
In about six weeks, the Ferrells will come to Charlotte for the criminal trial.
Georgia Ferrell said she wants “just justice. Whatever the courts decide is fine with me.”
In the meantime, she said, “I would like to thank the citizens, the police department for keeping everything so peaceful. There wasn’t all this rioting. I thank them for all that. For the peace.”