On the dry-erase board in the jury room, Moses Wilson wrote a question:
“What did Jonathan Ferrell DO to warrant death? 10 shots.”
Wilson, one of the four jurors who voted to convict Randall “Wes” Kerrick, said Saturday he never got a satisfactory answer to that question through the three-week trial of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police officer.
Wilson, 67, the only African-American male on the jury, moved to Charlotte in 2008 after retiring from a career as a court constable in Boston.
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Wilson said he didn’t care for a defense strategy that seemed to make Ferrell into a villain in the fatal encounter two years ago.
“Randall Kerrick wasn’t on trial,” said Wilson, a Vietnam veteran who served as a medic. “You know who was on trial? Jonathan Ferrell.”
Kerrick’s attorneys used every opportunity to demonize Ferrell, said Wilson – pointing out he’d had a few beers, smoked some marijuana before crashing his car the night of the shooting and noting that he wasn’t able to stay in college.
But Wilson said that Ferrell held down a job and was invited to join his friends, showing he was a sociable man.
Wilson said he would not speak for other jurors or reveal the dynamics of the deliberations, but would share his personal experience.
‘Night of mistakes, failures’
Wilson said that he viewed the one dashcam video taken that night that shows Ferrell approaching officers, then bolting toward Kerrick when laser dots from a Taser appeared on his chest.
“Putting Jonathan Ferrell on trial because he did not do or see or act the way the defense said he should act when he sees a police officer demeans the role of police officers in Charlotte,” said Wilson. “People should not be afraid to walk up to a police officer.”
Wilson said that Ferrell may have been approaching officers to ask a question. “He wasn’t given a chance,” he said.
“Jonathan Ferrell should not have been on trial. What did he do?”
Wilson said the night of Ferrell’s death was full of judgment errors by all concerned. “It was a night of bad mistakes and failures,” he said.
Wilson said that Ferrell’s mistakes included crashing the car, leaving his cell phone in the car and stumbling to a house, where he pounded on a door and frightened the homeowner.
Police arrived to a priority 1 call thinking there was a home invasion in progress, failed to leave dashboard cameras engaged and Kerrick pulled his gun, leading to the fatal shooting.
“Mistake upon mistake upon mistake that ended in death,” said Wilson.
After hearing the evidence, Wilson said he became convinced that Kerrick lost control and fired the 12 shots, 10 of which hit Ferrell.
“Those who call him a racist killer are wrong too,” said Wilson. “It’s not like that. He lost it.”
Jurors hopelessly deadlocked
Wilson said the jury agreed that Kerrick’s actions were intentional and unlawful and caused Ferrell’s death. But they disagreed on whether his actions constituted excessive force.
“A police officer can use force on you that matches your force,” Wilson said. “Did the force rise up to the need?”
Wilson said 12 shots were too much in the situation for him. “I made the decision. I stand by the decision,” he said.
“What I saw was that Jonathan Ferrell didn’t do anything to warrant death.”
When jurors – seven white, three black and two Hispanic – left the jury room for the last time Friday to report a deadlock, which led to a mistrial, Wilson’s question was still written on the board.
“My question was not answered and that’s why I voted guilty.”