In the aftermath of the mistrial after the jury failed to reach a verdict in the case of Randall Kerrick, the former Charlotte-Meckenberg police officer who shot and killed 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell in September 2013, you will inevitably hear law enforcement experts providing explanations about why the jury did not vote to convict Kerrick and possibly send him to prison for 11 years. Many of these experts will be current and former police officers. This is what you need to know about these “experts.”
Everyone has an opinion. Some even have informed opinions. But sometimes what seems to be an informed opinion it is only impersonating one. What you’re actually hearing is a highly biased opinion designed only to defend bad policing by bad cops.
The excuses are the usual ones. The apologists say Kerrick deserved to lose his job. Kerrick should never be a cop again. But it’s not Kerrick himself, but the police department which hired him that should be punished for his bad policing. Kerrick should go free for his bad policing but it is the taxpayers who should be on the hook for Kerrick’s bad policing. Kerrick shouldn’t be punished for pumping 10 bullets into Jonathan Ferrell, even though the two other officers, both more experienced than Kerrick didn’t fire their guns at all.
While for some it may be plausibly asserted the past experience of someone in the same profession has to make them the go-to experts on how ALL police departments work and how ALL police officers respond to situations as an uncooperative suspect, that is a baseless assertion of authority that defies logic, reality and common sense. Nobody is an expert on everything facet and every situation others in that profession may meet.
The opinion which should carry the most weight isn’t of somebody who doesn’t know Kerrick, doesn’t know what sort of cop he was, doesn’t know how the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department trains its officers, and doesn’t know what their policies and rules are. The opinion which matters most is someone who does.
Randall “Wes” Kerrick used excessive force when the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell two years ago, a training expert testified Tuesday.
CMPD Capt. Mike Campagna told jurors that given the circumstances – from what Kerrick knew from dispatchers to how events quickly happened – the 29-year-old officer violated police policies by opening fire on Ferrell as the former college football player ran toward him on a Sept. 14, 2013.
Ferrell, who was unarmed, was hit by 10 gunshots. Most came when Ferrell and Kerrick were a few feet apart or on top of each other.
Campagna said Kerrick was justified in pulling his gun but not in using it. Instead, Kerrick should have holstered his Smith & Wesson 40-caliber 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.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers are taught to respond to a threat with only the force needed to subdue a subject, Campagna testified.
What was the highest response Kerrick should have used, prosecutor Teresa Postell asked?
“Non-deadly force,” Campagna said.
“Was shooting Jonathan consistent with CMPD policy and training?” Postell asked.
“No, it was not,” Campagna said.
Some of these experts will express how concerned they are about bad cops and how they must be weeded out. Do not believe them. If their lips are moving, they’re lying.
Anybody who continually manufactures excuses for bad policing and then turns around to make noises about “reforming” the police to get rid of the bad apples in the bunch does not sincerely mean it. Reform is what they say. What they do is repeatedly shrug off every incident of inept, incompetent and illegal policing as isolated events which cop-haters will exaggerate only to tear down the police. How many isolated cases does it take before it is obvious there’s nothing isolated about police violence against people of color?
Kerrick didn’t get desk duty or a suspension for shooting Jonathan Ferrell. He got fired and arrested for murder. There were troubling signs Kerrick might not be found guilty when a grand jury failed to indict him and it took a second to do so.
How might things play out differently if Timothy Loehmann is indicted and tried for killing Tamir Rice or when Michael Slager is indicted and tried for killing Walter Scott or when the cops in Baltimore are tried for killing Freddie Gray?
It won’t play out any differently. Cops and their lawyers know they if they say the Five Magic Words it will be their guaranteed Get Out of Jail Free Card: “I feared for my life” and some sap on a jury or a limp-dick judge or a prosecutor afraid of pissing off the police will swallow this line whole and without question. We saw it with Eric Garner and Michael Brown and Sean Bell and Oscar Grant and Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond and on and on into infinity and beyond.
Michael Dunn killed Jordan Davis because he feared for his life. Theodore Wafer killed Renisha McBride because he feared for his life. George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin because he feared for his life. The Fear is the same but civilians, unlike cops, are less likely to have that reasonable doubt granted to them. Zimmerman was an exception and everything he’s been involved in since escaping punishment for Martin’s murder has brought clearly into focus between the two which one was the “thug.”
Cops get that benefit of the doubt. The Fear they claim led them to kill an unarmed man, woman or child is not measurable, but the cop apologists will tell you its real and its significant. In Kerrick’s case, he wasn’t facing Jonathan Ferrell alone. There were two other officers with him and neither one of them fired a shot. Does that mean they were the cowards here and Kerrick, the former animal control officer, was the real courageous one?
If a cop is so afraid for his life the default setting is to kill whomever is making them afraid, why the fuck are they a cop in the first place?
Calling Kerrick a coward is a completely proper term. He panicked and overreacted. He violated his training. He acted recklessly. He used lethal force in a situation where in the judgment of two other police officers it wasn’t necessary to stop Ferrell.
Those are the actions of a coward. A gutless, worthless, murderous COWARD who never should have been a cop. Kerrick should still be taking on angry Chihuahuas and poodles, not blowing away disoriented, injured Black men who had crawled from the wreckage of his totaled vehicle.
Make no mistake of it. What Kerrick did when he squeezed that trigger and pumped bullet after bullet after bullet after bullet into Ferrell until he had no more bullets to pump wasn’t about Kerrick being afraid for his life. It was about Kerrick wanting nothing more than to kill Ferrell and take away his life.
Contrary to the cop show hype crime does pay and criminals do get away with murder. Especially when the criminal is a cop.