Crime & Courts

City Council discusses Kerrick settlement for back pay, benefits

A jury deadlocked 8-4 in the trial of Randall “Wes” Kerrick, far left, last month.
A jury deadlocked 8-4 in the trial of Randall “Wes” Kerrick, far left, last month. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

The Charlotte City Council discussed the status of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick Monday night in closed session, and sources said the city is considering financial severance for the officer.

Kerrick was suspended without pay after the September 2013 shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell.

The specific dollar amount of any possible settlement was not known, though sources said the officer could receive back wages and possible benefits in exchange for leaving the department.

Under city policy, the council must approve any settlement above $100,000. City Manager Ron Carlee can sign off on payments as high as $100,000. City Attorney Bob Hagemann has authority up to $50,000.

Hagemann said Monday the city had no announcement to make regarding the case.

In return for the payment, according to sources, Kerrick would resign from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and pledge not to take future legal action against the city.

Two years ago, police charged Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter after the officer shot the unarmed Ferrell 10 times in a pre-dawn confrontation east of Charlotte. Kerrick’s arrest came the same day as the shooting, an unusually fast response from a department that typically takes weeks to investigate fatal shootings by its officers. Then-Chief Rodney Monroe said at the time that Kerrick used excessive force.

Kerrick and two other officers answering a burglary call that night in which Ferrell was a suspect say Ferrell charged Kerrick and ignored orders to stop.

Kerrick’s court case ended last month in a mistrial when a Mecklenburg County jury deadlocked 8-4 to acquit him. A week later, state prosecutors announced that they would not refile the manslaughter charge.

Any settlement with Kerrick would add to what the city already has paid out on the case.

In May, the City Council approved a $2.25 million settlement with Ferrell’s family to close a federal lawsuit. That’s a record amount for a case involving CMPD use of force.

In July, Carlee and his staff spent $15,000 to hire an Ohio media consultant to advise on communication issues during the trial.

At issue in the voluntary manslaughter case was whether Kerrick used excessive force when he shot Ferrell 10 times – or if he was justified because he thought Ferrell posed a deadly threat.

The trial opened Aug. 3 and lasted nearly three weeks. More than 50 witnesses testified, and nearly 350 exhibits were shown to the jury of two Latinos, three African-Americans and seven whites.

Though the incident took place before controversial police killings of unarmed African-Americans in Ferguson, Mo., and Cleveland, the Kerrick case unfolded against the backdrop of a nationwide debate over police use of deadly force.

Earlier this month, on the second anniversary of Ferrell’s death, his family visited the scene of his death for the first time. They’re in the process of forming the Justice For Jonathan Foundation, using part of the $2.25 million the city of Charlotte paid to settle a lawsuit filed by the Ferrell family.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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