Crime & Courts

Live updates: Jury hears radio traffic from before, after shooting

Teresa Postell, asst. prosecuting attorney, questions CMPD Lt. Erik Brady. Randall Kerrick's defense team called several witnesses on Wednesday, August 12, 2015.
Teresa Postell, asst. prosecuting attorney, questions CMPD Lt. Erik Brady. Randall Kerrick's defense team called several witnesses on Wednesday, August 12, 2015.

This is 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.

4:35 p.m.: Defense attorneys play police radio traffic

Kerrick’s defense attorneys played the radio traffic between police officers and dispatchers.

After the shooting, an officer on the scene says: “Suspect is down. Need (paramedics).”

Later, an officer says, “Also, the officer was hit by the suspect.” The officer later clarifies that the suspect was shot and the officer was physically struck.

Kerrick’s attorneys have said that their client was under attack by Ferrell and that Kerrick fired his gun in self defense.

Jurors also heard from Brian McCartney, the man whose door Ferrell went to. McCartney was at work when the incident occurred. His wife, Sarah, was alone at home with their small child and called 911. McCartney told jurors the door had dents on it, apparently from being kicked by Ferrell.

Court adjourned for the day about 20 minutes early because the next witness was not expected to testify until Thursday and was not in court.

3:45 p.m.: Effects of combining alcohol with marijuana

Witnesses who testified on Wednesday afternoon have given jurors a detailed look at the hour or so before Ferrel crashed his fiancee’s car in eastern Mecklenburg County.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors and defense attorneys have painted contrasting images of Ferrell. Was he a car crash victim seeking help or a man disoriented by drug and alcohol use?

Ferrell’s blood alcohol content was 0.06 percent around the time of the crash, which is within the legal limit to drive, according to Ferrell’s autopsy. A blood test showed no trace of marijuana in his system. Max Funderburke, a co-worker of Ferrell’s, testified last week that the pair smoked marijuana after Ferrell dropped him off at his home in Bradfield Farms, shortly before Ferrell’s car wreck.

A CMPD officer who is a drug recognition expert was called by Kerrick’s defense to testify Wednesday about the effects of alcohol and marijuana.

“With the introduction of marijuana, it severely impairs their ability to operate a motor vehicle,” Cerdan said. “It would severely impair their cognitive abilities. If you add a drug, you’re impairing yourself even more.”

During cross-examation, prosecutor Steven Arbogast pointed out that an officer couldn’t know what impact marijuana or alcohol had on a person without seeing or talking to the person.

“I would have to see that person,” Cerdan replied.

3:15 p.m.: Accident reconstruction expert: Ferrell wasn’t paying attention before crash

An accident reconstruction expert for Kerrick’s defense testified that Ferrell’s car wreck was likely caused by inattentive driving.

Tyler Black, with Delta V engineering, reconstructed Ferrell’s collision based on the police report and his own measurements, taken days after the crash. Black estimated that Ferrell’s car was going between 38 and 50 mph when it left the roadway. There were no signs of tire skid marks.

“It suggests the driver wasn’t paying attention,” Black said.

The prosecution’s earlier witnesses estimated Ferrell’s speed at 41 mph in a 25 mph zone, with his car still going 12 mph when it came to rest against a tree.

2:45 p.m.: Chemist testifies about marijuana

Ann Charlesworth, a forensic chemist for CMPD, testified that she was asked to test three “roaches” to see if they contained marijuana. She wrote a report that said they did. She did not say where the samples were from or who they belonged to.

Max Funderburke, a co-worker of Ferrell’s, testified that the pair smoked marijuana after Ferrell dropped him off at his home in Bradfield Farms, shortly before Ferrell’s car wreck.

12:50 p.m.: Jury sees training videos, hears about ‘reaction gap’

Defense attorneys showed jurors a video of officers going through a firearms training simulation at the police academy. Defense attorneys and prosecutors had met with Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin for nearly an hour, sparring over which parts of the video could be shown to jurors, and what defense attorneys would ask Officer Kip White, a training officer who is on the witness stand.

In one video of the simulation, a man armed with a knife sprints at the officers, who don’t have enough time to react to his attack. Defense Attorney George Laughrun focused on the speed of the encounter in his questions to White.

After the simulation, White said he instructs the officers to “increase the reaction gap.”

“We have to gauge our abilities versus the suspect’s abilities,” he said. “This guy (in the training video) was very fit and quick and can get on us very quick.”

Prosecutors asked White whether that meant officers had to use lethal force.

“The purpose of that class was to train officers, including this defendant, that lethal coverage does not mean they had their gun in their hand?” prosecutor Teresa Postell asked.

“That’s correct,” White responded.

11:05 a.m. Defense attorney says Kerrick will testify

In response to a question from Judge Ervin, defense attorney George Laughrun said for the first time that Kerrick will testify. It is not yet known when in the trial that will happen.

For now, the defense is poised to question Kip White, a training officer. With the jury out of the room, Laughrun said White would walk jurors through a training video similar to one Kerrick went through.

10:50 a.m.: Officer says Kerrick was counseled to pull a gun

CMPD Officer C.T. Thompson, who worked with Kerrick in 2012, testified about a use of force situation for which the pair was admonished. The officers believed a man was armed and possibly going for a weapon, and both pulled out their Tasers.

Thompson fired and the man was taken into custody. But later, Thompson said, he and Kerrick were told that one of them should have pulled a gun in case the situation warranted the use of lethal force.

“He felt like, according to our training, one should have had lethal, one should have had nonlethal,” Thomspon said. “One should have had your Taser, one should have had your service weapon.”

Later, Lt. Eric Brady testified about what he told Kerrick and Thompson. “With the fact that there could have been a weapon involved, then one of you needs to be there with lethal force in the event that it turns into a lethal situation,” he testified.

On Tuesday, CMPD Capt. Mike Campagna testified that Kerrick was justified in pulling his gun, but not in using it. Instead, Kerrick should have holstered his pistol and used other options to restrain Ferrell – from firing his Taser to using his baton or pepper spray, to even kicking or punching the approaching man.

A video interview recorded by CMPD investigators a few hours after the 2103 shooting and shown earlier during the trial, Kerrick says he did not see a weapon in Ferrell’s hands and fired because he was afraid Ferrell intended to take his gun.

9:50 a.m.: Judge denies request to take jury to shooting scene

Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin denied a request by Kerrick’s defense attorney that the jury be allowed to see the shooting scene, preferably at night.

Defense attorney Michael Greene said going to the scene would give jurors a better sense of distance, space and lighting conditions than any picture.

“If (prosecutors) truly want the truth revealed, what’s the harm in going down there and letting the jury decide for themselves?” Greene asked Ervin. “They’re the trier of fact, not the state.”

But prosecutor Steven Arbogast said it would be impossible to replicate the conditions of the shooting.

“By the time they get in that ditch, the crime is over,” he said. “We’re confusing arguing about a ditch, when the focus is another place.”

Basic facts

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:

Tuesday’s live updates, Tuesday’s wrap-up story.

Monday live updates, Monday’s wrap-up story.

To read reports from the first week of Kerrick’s trial:

Monday live updates, Monday’s wrap-up story.

Tuesday live updates, Tuesday’s wrap-up story.

Wednesday live updates, Wednesday’s wrap-up story.

Thursday live updates, Thursday’s wrap-up story.

Friday live updates, Friday’s wrap-up story.

Q&A at the end of the first week.

Full transcript of CMPD interview with Kerrick in 2013.

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

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