Survived Car Crash. Killed By Cop. (UPDATED)

We know who killed Jon Ferrell, but the legal system seems to be confused.

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.

jonathan-ferrell car 2

All that’s left of Ferrell’s car. He survived the crash but not the police.

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.

The dog catcher turned killer cop testifies in court.

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Live. Die. Repeat.

Running feet do not trump flying bullets.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

A Black man.  A car.  A White cop.   Black man runs.  White cops shoots.  Black man dies.   White cop arrested and charged for killing the Black man.

Sound familiar?  It should, but it’s not Walter Scott being gunned down as he runs away from Officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina.   It’s Jonathan Ferrell, the 24-year-old former Florida A&M football player whom in September 2013 survived crashing his car in Charlotte, North Carolina only to be shot down when Officer Randall Kerrick shot Ferrell 12 times striking him with 10 shots. Crawling from the wreckage of his car a, bloody and disoriented Ferrell banged on a frightened woman’s door and officer responding to the 911 claim he rushed them.

Then, as with Scott, a Taser was used by the cops against Ferrell and failed to stop him.  There was also a dash-cam video of Kerrick killing Ferrell, but it was never released publicly.   Kerrick was fired, indicted and faces trial…oh hell, I don’t know.  SOMETIME in 2015.  Or maybe next year.  Or maybe never.  It’s hard to say with any certainty.

Despite all the absolute certainty repeatedly expressed in this thread that Michael Slager is guilty as sin for murdering Walter Scott, please remember there was video of Rodney King being beaten and Eric Garner being choked to death and we all know how those cases turned.

Slager has a new attorney who has a reputation of taking on tough cases and winning them including a cop accused of killing a suspect.  Slager will get his day in court (or he may not if he isn’t indicted) and he is entitled to mount a defense,  In the hands of a skilled attorney up can be turned to down and what looks an absolute certainty now can become an acquittal if only one juror finds there is reasonable doubt.

That’s the one upside of being completely cynical about successfully prosecuting and convicting a killer cop; when it doesn’t happen you’re never shocked by it.

If I wanted to I could update my blog with nothing but updates of cops shooting Black men.   I could, but I don’t want to. If I never wrote another post about a Black man killed by a cop, I’d be thrilled.

But racist police brutalizing us is a growth industry and business is good. Cops beating up, beating down and fucking up the world of Black people is an common event. It’s common practice.  Beaten.  Brutalized.  Bloodied.  This shit HAPPENS EVERY DAY. No holidays. No days off. No breaks. No pause. No let up of boots up the ass and on the necks of Black people.

Slam dunks are for the basketball court, not a court a law. A video is not a conviction.  There have always been cops whom  kill unarmed suspects, plant weapons on them and walk away from it and that is what would have happened had not someone filmed it.

Yet time and again, though the camera never lies, it doesn’t always lead to the truth and I have no faith it will in this case. The man behind the video, Feidin Santana admitted he gave serious thought to erasing the video.  Imagine how differently this story would have played out if he had.

If Slager is charged, he won’t be indicted. If indicted he won’t be put on trial. If put on trial, he won’t be convicted. If convicted, he won’t be imprisoned and he will NEVER be sentenced to death.   The good faith Americans place in the justice system is devout and guileless. unfortunately, the hard truth is their faith is all too frequently false and unfounded.  It’s more likely Slager walks away from this and U.S. Supreme Court precedent is why.

Maybe things will be different this time, huh?   Let’s all close our eyes, clap our hands and wish for ponies this Christmas too.

You have the right to remain silent. Forever.

…And Justice For All?

cop car on fire

These are my last words for the foreseeable future on the series of shooting by the police of Black men and it’s not because I don’t have more to say.   Actually it’s more that this is a topic that first fills me with blind, irrational anger, followed by nauseated disgust and finally fatalistic pessimism.    It’s unhealthy to allow any one subject become so pervasive it becomes all-encompassing, so I have to let this go and move on.

This is going to be long, but I hope it makes sense.

There’s a degree of certain cognitive dissonance associated with the killings of Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, John Crawford II among the other recent examples of cop-vs-civilian citizens.

Only the most angry of anarchists could boldly state there is no need for the police. Time and again it has been demonstrated the police are the only organization between order and chaos. Whether it’s some thoughtless neighbors blasting their music too loud in the wee hours or an old woman who’s fallen down and can’t get up or a child doesn’t arrive home after school or some guy has just rear-ended your brand new Chevy, there needs to be the person who comes along and makes a crazy world sane again for a while.

Most of us were brought up to respect police as figures of authority worthy of respect equal to that of doctors, lawyers, clergy and politicians. They were the Good Guys protecting us all from the Bad Guys.

Of course, the reality is never that black and white and the cracks in the facade become even more acute when the reality is Black and White.

Akai Gurley: Protected and Served to Death.

Akai Gurley: Protected and Served to Death.

I don’t know if Akai Gurley was a good man who didn’t deserve to die in a darkened staircase or a bad man who would have likely met with a bad end sooner or later. But what I do know is when something happens and keeps happening and it’s always reasoned away and waved off as merely “an accident” that isn’t an explanation as much as it is denial.

It didn’t surprise me when Darren Wilson walked. Mike Brown was viewed as a threat. It didn’t surprise me when Daniel Pantaleo walked. Eric Garner was a physically unhealthy man who refused to be taken into custody without resisting. It didn’t surprise me when the cops who blew away John Crawford II in a Wal-Mart walked because he had no business walking around with a realistic looking BB gun.

Neither did Tamir Rice so it won’t surprise me if Officer Timothy Loehmann walks despite being judged unfit for duty by a small town police force but apparently OK for the Cleveland cop shop.

That same dysfunctional Cleveland cop shop following a U.S. Justice Department investigation into acts of excessive force recently agreed to a consent decree which will doubtlessly lead to possibly hundreds of officers fired and forced into retirement. Getting bad cops off the street is a help to good cops, but you’ll rarely hear them say it out loud.

I have communicated with several ex-cops and those who aspired to be cops and they comment regularly on  a discussion board I patronize on several officer related shooting threads as well as high-profile non-police involved deaths such as the Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride cases. They offer insights and perspectives on police procedure, protocol and perspectives civilians are on the outside of peering in. They offer a valuable contribution in the ongoing process of building bridges and not walls between the police and the community.

However, when it comes to matters of police misconduct, corruption and brutality, their default setting seems to be to close ranks with their brethren in blue and fall back to the now familiar stance of “us vs them” and if you aren’t one of us, you must be one of them.

Frank Serpico was one of “us” until he broke the cop code of silence and testified about corruption in the NYPD. Hollywood made Serpico the flawed hero in a movie starring Al Pacino, but the NYPD still regards him as a snitch, a rat, and a villain.

Want to see a hero cop? Frank Serpico qualifies.

Serpico says police brutality now is as bad as police corruption was back in his day and for many of the same reasons: a permissive culture that looks the other way, closes ranks, protects bad cops and persecutes good cops trying to do their jobs the right way.

And today the Blue Wall of Silence endures in towns and cities across America. Whistleblowers in police departments — or as I like to call them, “lamp lighters,” after Paul Revere — are still turned into permanent pariahs. The complaint I continue to hear is that when they try to bring injustice to light they are told by government officials: “We can’t afford a scandal; it would undermine public confidence in our police.” That confidence, I dare say, is already seriously undermined.

Things might have improved in some areas. The days when I served and you could get away with anything, when cops were better at accounting than at law enforcement — keeping meticulous records of the people they were shaking down, stealing drugs and money from dealers on a regular basis — all that no longer exists as systematically as it once did, though it certainly does in some places. Times have changed. It’s harder to be a venal cop these days.

But an even more serious problem — police violence — has probably grown worse, and it’s out of control for the same reason that graft once was: a lack of accountability.
I tried to be an honest cop in a force full of bribe-takers. But as I found out the hard way, police departments are useless at investigating themselves—and that’s exactly the problem facing ordinary people across the country —including perhaps, Ferguson, Missouri, which has been a lightning rod for discontent even though the circumstances under which an African-American youth, Michael Brown, was shot remain unclear.

Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he’s typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets—this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And we still don’t know how many of these incidents occur each year; even though Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 20 years ago, requiring the Justice Department to produce an annual report on “the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,” the reports were never issued.)

It wasn’t any surprise to me that, after Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, officers instinctively lined up behind Darren Wilson, the cop who allegedly killed Brown. Officer Wilson may well have had cause to fire if Brown was attacking him, as some reports suggest, but it is also possible we will never know the full truth—whether, for example, it was really necessary for Wilson to shoot Brown at least six times, killing rather than just wounding him. As they always do, the police unions closed ranks also behind the officer in question. And the district attorney (who is often totally in bed with the police and needs their votes) and city power structure can almost always be counted on to stand behind the unions.

In some ways, matters have gotten even worse. The gulf between the police and the communities they serve has grown wider. Mind you, I don’t want to say that police shouldn’t protect themselves and have access to the best equipment. Police officers have the right to defend themselves with maximum force, in cases where, say, they are taking on a barricaded felon armed with an assault weapon. But when you are dealing every day with civilians walking the streets, and you bring in armored vehicles and automatic weapons, it’s all out of proportion. It makes you feel like you’re dealing with some kind of subversive enemy. The automatic weapons and bulletproof vest may protect the officer, but they also insulate him from the very society he’s sworn to protect. All that firepower and armor puts an even greater wall between the police and society, and solidifies that “us-versus-them” feeling.

Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

At 77, Frank Serpico is an old man and old men are susceptible to being scoffed at as behind the times and out of the loop. Even the film was made over four decades ago. Yet, Serpico says he loved being a cop. He just wishes he could have been allowed to be the honest cop he wanted to be and not the threat he became because he refused to be a dishonest one.

I honestly do not believe most cops are racist, but in all honesty, there are racists who are cops.  Their default setting is to side with the cops because they were cops that is no less understandable than mine is to side with a Brown, Garner, Gurley, Rice, Martin, Ferrell, Grant, Bell or Diallo because I look like them.

I’ve said before nobody needs the protection of the police more than the Black community. If Black people are disproportionately killed by the police, and more specifically, by White police officers that is in no small part due to the disproportionate numbers of Blacks committing crimes and incarcerated for those crimes. But that’s a much more complicated problem than finger-pointing idiots like Rudy Giuliani or Charles Barkley can resolve with their simplistic solutions.

Serpico doesn’t have all the answers to society’s ills either, but he does have some suggestions deserving of being included in any discussion of the bloody schism between cops and communities of color.

1. Strengthen the selection process and psychological screening process for police recruits. Police departments are simply a microcosm of the greater society. If your screening standards encourage corrupt and forceful tendencies, you will end up with a larger concentration of these types of individuals;
2. Provide ongoing, examples-based training and simulations. Not only telling but showing police officers how they are expected to behave and react is critical;
3. Require community involvement from police officers so they know the districts and the individuals they are policing. This will encourage empathy and understanding;
4. Enforce the laws against everyone, including police officers. When police officers do wrong, use those individuals as examples of what not to do – so that others know that this behavior will not be tolerated. And tell the police unions and detective endowment associations they need to keep their noses out of the justice system;
5. Support the good guys. Honest cops who tell the truth and behave in exemplary fashion should be honored, promoted and held up as strong positive examples of what it means to be a cop;
6. Last but not least, police cannot police themselves. Develop permanent, independent boards to review incidents of police corruption and brutality—and then fund them well and support them publicly. Only this can change a culture that has existed since the beginnings of the modern police department.

If Number One of Serpico’s reforms had been in place in Cleveland, Timothy Loehmann might have remained a washed-out small-town cop and never moved on to become a big-city cop and Tamir Rice might still be alive instead of shot down in less than three seconds when Loehmann encountered him.

police-brutality

If Number Two of Serpico’s reforms had been in place in New York, Peter Liang might have been paired off with a more experienced veteran officer instead of another rookie like himself.

If Number Six of Serpico’s reforms had been in place in New York and Ferguson, Missouri, the grand jury decisions not to indict Pantaleno and Wilson might be less subject to suspicions of prosecutors manipulating the results.

There will never be a solution to the problem of police brutality and community hostility until all sides involved own up to their own vested interests, sacred cows and protected turf. Any meaningful progress means giving up, compromising, hammering out and forging a new deal between polarized enemies.

I don’t want to view the police as an occupying force. I need them to tell my noisy neighbors to turn that racket down as much as anyone else does. At the current state of things, I’m far less concerned about ISIS or Ebola taking me out than I am Officer Friendly doing me in because he didn’t like a gesture I made during a traffic stop.

Don’t tell me being a cop is a tough, thankless gig. Who doesn’t know that? Any cop who was expecting applause should have never cut their hair, formed a rock band and learned how to play Van Halen’s “Eruption.” Most cops never pull their guns to shoot anybody. When they do most times they’re justified and every time they have to kill someone they don’t have to be probed like a visit to the proctologist.

That doesn’t give cops a license to kill and a badge does not bestow extra rights the rest of us don’t get.

It is not playing the Race Card to wonder why there are so many encounters between unarmed Black men and armed White cops end up fatal for the Black men. If the shoe were on the other foot and White cops were being mowed down by Black assailants would there any puzzlement of what the hell is going on?

The agitation of a New Black Panthers plotting acts of murder and revenge against persons and property deserves condemnation by any responsible citizen, but so does Patrick Lynch of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association when he calls Pantaleo “a model police officer.”

The demagoguery has to end. The distrust has to end. The polarization and politicking has to end. I want to say it can end if all sides resolve to find a way to come together and force it to end. Yet while I try to be hopeful because it doesn’t make much sense to be anything else or you might as well not get up out of bed, I can’t say I’m optimistic.

Reconciliation is possible but not if our differences remain irreconcilable. We can wait for the next Akai Gurley or Eric Garner or Mike Brown or Tamir Rice to come along and do this now familiar dance over again; five steps back and no steps forward, but if police reform is impossible a  revolution against the police is inevitable.

The odds are excellent we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

oscar wilde

The Murder of Renisha McBride

Why is this woman dead and her killer still free? WHY?

I haven’t been able to say anything about the killing of Renisha McBride for the same reason I haven’t been able to write my reaction to seeing 12 Years A Slave.

It’s too real and too much pain involved.   I needed a little time to compress and process.  Now that I have, here’s what I have to say.

Your name is Renisha McBride.  You are 19 years old and you live in Detroit.  You are in the suburb of Dearborn Heights and get in a car crash.  Your cell phone is dead.   You’re injured and bleeding.  You go looking for help and knock on the door of a house.   Someone opens the door armed with a loaded gun, shoots a woman in her face and then claims it “discharged by accident?”

I call “bullshit” on that.

A gun doesn’t aim itself and triggers don’t pull themselves. Human beings do that.

Scared, stupid, racist human beings who can kill an injured and unarmed woman and two weeks later the killer still hasn’t been arrested or even identified.

Smells like George Zimmerman chillin’ at the crib for nearly 45  days after blowing away Trayvon Martin all over again only this time it’s a remix with the bizarre circumstances of the Jonathan Ferrell shooting of a few months ago.  As if Black people needed yet another reminder of how cheaply their lives are regarded by the injustice system here comes a hard slap across the face.

Yes, it’s a different situation from the Ferrell shooting in that in this case if was a homeowner, not a cop, who blew Renisha McBride away.

Otherwise, what’s so different?

The overarching lesson here seems to be if you’re Black and you get in a car crash at night and your cell phone is out of juice and you need help, DON’T go knocking on the door of any nearby homes unless you want to get shot.

Just sit there in the wreckage of your vehicle and suffer. You’ll still be injured, but you might not end up dead.

mcbride funeral

All things considered, is  slowly freezing to death or dying slowly of internal injuries so much worse or any less than being shot in the face with a .12 gauge shotgun by some trigger-happy cretin?

I have no confidence the courts will dispense justice for the killer of Renisha McBride anymore than it did for Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant or Rodney King.

Each of these cases have more than one thing in common. They each have a White shooter (with the exception of Zimmerman) and a Black victim and all of them united by the supposed fear of the shooter of the victim.

Each of these cases shows how “laws” like Stand Your Ground have been designed to protect the killers, not the victims. There is a culture of death that already plagues the Black community as they die by violence perpetrated among themselves, but White fear of Black people has become legally sanctioned as reason enough to kill them with impunity.

The American system of jurisprudence is blind, but it is not color blind. If the race of the shooter and the victim were reversed there is no way a Black man would not be arrested for shooting a 19-year-old White female in the face as she sought help after an auto accident.

We don’t know why Mr. X shot McBride.  We know he is 54 years old and a White male.  His attorney says he feared McBride was trying to break into his home and he shot her accidentally which if you believe that, I have some nice property in the Everglades to sell you.

Where is the evidence Renisha attempted to break into the house of the man who shot her?

Self-defense only applies when someone needs to defend themselves (or at least it did before SYG laws turned the concept upside down). Renisha was injured, disoriented and unarmed. Where is the threat? Or is knocking on a door now grounds to shoot someone in the face?

Trayvon Martin.  Jonathan Ferrell.  Renisha McBride.  Scared shooters.  Dead Black people.

Trayvon Martin.  Black male.  Racially profiled.  Shot by vigilante.  Dead.

Jonathan Ferrell. Black male. Car crash. Seeks help. Shot by cop. Dead.

Renisha McBride. Black female. Car crash. Seeks help. Shot by homeowner. Dead.

Once is accident. Twice is coincidence. Third time is proof.

People whom are not protected by the law will soon have no respect for the law.  If that is the lesson America wants to teach its Black citizens, they should know they are building a hothouse where only discontent, rage and hate will grow.

When it reaches full bloom it won’t be pretty to behold.   That’s not a warning.  That’s a prophecy.

Demonstrators demand justice for Renisha McBride

 

To Serve and Protect…and Kill

Randall Kerrick: killer. Jonathan Ferrell: killed

Jonathan Ferrell survived a crash that totaled his car.  He did not survive a fatal encounter with a scared cop.

The phrase “trigger-happy” is not one to be casually applied. Here it seems completely right.    If Office Randall Kerrick was afraid of Jonathan Ferrell he had no business being a police officer.

Ferrell’s size (he was a former football player) doesn’t mean Kerrick had to pull his gun and fire…
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire.

You get my point?

Kerrick fired 12 shots. Ferrell was hit with 10 bullets.

Do the math.

12 shots. Ten hits.

Jonathan Ferrell's family wants justice for him.

Jonathan Ferrell’s family wants justice for him.

That’s not stopping a man.  That is massacring a man.

Just how dead did Ferrell have to be before Kerrick felt safe?

Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter. His lawyers were in court Tuesday for a first appearance on the charge. Kerrick, 27, did not attend. The judge scheduled an Oct. 7 probable cause hearing for Kerrick.

After the hearing, defense attorney Michael Greene declined to take questions but said of Kerrick: “His actions were justified on the night in question.”

Kerrick joined the police force after working as an animal control officer.

Animal control officer.”

That’s a nice euphemism for a dog-catcher.

That had to be a step up in prestige for Officer Kerrick. Going from hunting down runaway poodles to gunning down accident victims.

What happened to Jonathan Ferrell was a gross overreaction and is indefensible.   Kerrick had no business being given a gun and a badge.  This is why the toxicology results will be extremely important in determining what Ferrell’s state of mind was. Unless Ferrell was drunk or high, I can’t see any way to categorize his death as anything but an outrageous example of incompetence and police brutality.

But I wouldn’t be surprised to see his killer walk free and be back on the beat. Disgusted? Yes. Surprised? No.

I would like to be able to tell my son he has nothing to fear from the police. Then I remember he is a tall, big young man and somebody might consider that to mean he’s scary and potentially dangerous. Psst…and he’s Black.

I’d be a damn fool to tell my son he nothing to fear from the police.    Blacks killed by other Blacks seem to be only ones that end up being punished.

Georgia Ferrell,  Jonathan’s mother told CBS News she forgave Kerrick.

“I do forgive him,” Georgia Ferrell says. “I so forgive him, but I do want justice.”

I hope she gets justice.  I have serious doubts she will.

Survived Car Crash. Killed by Cop.

Ferrell was a responsible man, not a criminal. He shouldn’t be dead.

Remember when you were in school and Officer Friendly came to class and told you , “the police officer is your friend?”

Some are. Some aren’t.

Sometimes you can’t tell until it’s too late.

A North Carolina police officer who authorities say fatally shot an unarmed man as he sought assistance after he crashed his vehicle early Saturday morning has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the man’s death.

Authorities in Charlotte say former Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University football player Jonathan Ferrell appears to have crashed his car down an embankment about 2:30 a.m. and then knocked on the door of a nearby residence shortly after looking for help.

The homeowner opened the door thinking it was her husband. When she realized it was 24-year-old Ferrell – a stranger – she closed the door and called 911, according to reports.

When officers arrived, they found Ferrell a short distance from the home, and he matched a description given by the homeowner, police said.

The statement said officers approached Ferrell to investigate the original call. Ferrell ran toward the officers and one officer fired a taser, however it failed to discharge, police said.

Ferrell continued to run toward police when Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, fired his weapon, hitting Ferrell several times, according to WSOC. Ferrell was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities said Kerrick fired his weapon with ‘excessive’ and ‘unlawful’ force.

A wrecked vehicle was later discovered in woods nearby.

‘We believe that vehicle belonged to the individual who was shot. It’s quite possible he was seeking assistance. Based on his accident, it was a pretty serious accident,’ Monroe said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe said the accident was so serious Ferrell would have been forced to climb out of the back window of the vehicle, WSOC reported. He apparently walked to the nearest house and banged on the door.

Monroe told a news conference that he didn’t think Ferrell was trying to rob the woman.

‘I don’t believe threats were made,’ the chief said.

‘He is pretty shook up,’ the chief said. ‘He’s devastated.’

Kerrick has been with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police since April 2011.

Monroe said at a news conference that Kerrick was in custody. Police say he was charged with voluntary manslaughter after an investigation found that the shooting was excessive. He handed himself in on Saturday.

‘The evidence revealed that Mr Ferrell did advance on Officer Kerrick and the investigation showed that the subsequent shooting of Mr Ferrell was excessive,’ police said in a statement issued late Saturday.

jonathan-ferrell

‘Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.’

Two other officers at the scene have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a probe into the shooting, according to the station.

This isn’t simply a tragedy. It’s a travesty and it stinks like hell.

The word online is what happened to Jonathan Ferrell is a shadow of what happened to Trayvon Martin and  I really don’t want to see those shadows. No shadows, no echoes, no reminders, no similarities, none of it.

I want to assume this was a senseless case of mistaken identity and intentions.  But I don’t know if I can make that assumption.   Let’s recap the story as it appeared in The Charlotte Observer.

Ferrell moved to Charlotte in February after a stint at FAMU where he played safety on the school’s football team. He worked two jobs, one at Best Buy and another at Dillard’s department store.

Police said he drove a black Toyota Camry down a street that leads to the community’s pool, clubhouse and tennis courts. But the car crashed into an embankment about 2 a.m., police said. Investigators said they found no indication of alcohol use, but are waiting for toxicology tests.

I’m going to assume Ferrell was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when his car ended up in an embankment at 2:00 a.m. It is possible he was, but I’ll assume he wasn’t until we know differently.

Ferrell apparently climbed out of the back window of his mangled car, police said. It was unclear whether he was injured, but he walked to a house just visible over the crest of a hill, about a quarter-mile away.

He started “banging on the door viciously,” according to Monroe.

I’m going to assume the police are not exaggerating when they say Ferrell banged on the door “viciously” of a residence he wandered to.  But I have a problem with the phrase “viciously.”  That is a pretty powerful descriptor. As a writer I know well how changing knocking on a door from “urgently” to “viciously” has an entirely different meaning.

Why is it “unclear” if Ferrell was injured in the crash? I assume we have to wait for the coroners report to decide what injuries were caused by the car wreck and which were caused by being shot down by the cop.

The woman who lives there at first thought the man knocking on the door was her husband, coming home late from work. But police said when she saw Ferrell, she thought he was a robber. She dialed 911, asking for officers to come to her home in the 7500 block of Reedy Creek Road.

I will make another assumption here: It’s 2:00 in the morning. Someone’s knocking/pounding on the door. Maybe you’re up watching TV. Maybe you’re asleep. Maybe Ferrell is in a panic, disoriented, hurt, distraught, pissed off–who knows? The lady of the residence–does she open the door and see a young Black man standing there pleading for help or does she look out the peephole and see a young Black man–maybe bloody and disheveled and looking like he just crawled out of the wreckage of a smashed car–banging the hell out of her door?

What would you do? Open the door? Let a total stranger in your home at an ungodly hour? Grab your gun and tell him to get the hell off of your property? Call the cops?

Next is where it all goes ass end up.

jonathan-ferrell car 2

About 2:30 a.m., three Hickory Grove division officers responded to the call – Kerrick, 27, who’s been an officer since April 2011; Thornell Little, who joined the department in April 1998; and Adam Neal, who’s been an officer since May 2008.

They encountered Ferrell a short distance from the home, police said.  As the officers got out of their car, “Mr. Ferrell immediately ran toward the officers,” according to a police statement. It said Ferrell moved toward Kerrick.

Little fired his Taser, but police said it was unsuccessful.

Police said Kerrick fired “several” rounds, striking Ferrell “multiple times.” He died at the scene.

Police gave no additional details Sunday.

Ferrell had no criminal record in North Carolina and a 2011 misdemeanor charge in Florida that was dismissed.

I’m going to assume Ferrell saw the cops roll up. Maybe the thought went through his mind, “Oh thank heaven. The cops are here.”

It’s 2:30 a.m. It’s night, there are street lights for illumination and the cops have flashlights. But they don’t know they’re responding to an accident scene. They are responding to a 911 call of a stranger rapping on a door.

Maybe he’s just drunk or stoned or mental. Maybe he’s dangerous.

You can’t assume good intentions.

Ferrell runs toward the cops. Is he shouting “Help me!” Is he cursing and making threats? Is he screaming incoherently? Does he have blood on his face, body and clothes from the crash or breaking out the back window of the car and crawling out?

The woman called 911 and reported Ferrell as attempting to break in her home. That would  change the perception of the responding officers that they were looking for a suspect, not a victim.

Who’s got time to wonder? This guy is running toward you. Maybe it looks like he’s charging you. You’ve told him to stop, raise your hands, lie on the ground, but he’s still coming! Don’t take any chances!

One cop pulls his Taser and tries to hit Ferrell with it. No good. It doesn’t work!  He’s still coming!

Kerrick pulls his gun and fires “several” rounds and hits Ferrell “multiple” times. He dies at the scene.

This is where I stop assuming.  The several rounds and multiple times turned out to be ten shots.  Pure and total overkill.   That wasn’t stopping a suspect.  That was an execution.

Why would Ferrell “charge” the cops? What does “move toward Kerrick” mean? Did Ferrell have something in his hands? Something that could be confused as a weapon? Was it something he said? Was he running toward the cops at all?

Two experts who study police use of force told the Observer on Sunday that they had never seen a police officer charged so swiftly in a shooting.

“That’s unheard of,” said Mike Bumcrot, a California-based consultant with the Police Policy Studies Council. He’s also a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide detective. “I was pretty dumbfounded.”

Bumcrot said internal affairs and homicide investigations into police shootings typically take weeks.

“I’ve never seen it happen that fast,” said Bumcrot. “The only thing I can figure is the officer must have made some statement … that really put him in a bind.”

Geoffrey Alpert, a University of South Carolina professor of criminology, said it’s “very rare” for a police officer to be charged with a criminal offense for using a weapon in the line of duty. Internal discipline, up to being fired, is much more common.

“I’ve never seen a criminal charge that quickly,” said Alpert. “Normally it takes a lot longer to figure out what happened.

Ferrell survived this crash, but not the cops.


Alpert said that the quick charging time could be completely reasonable, based on what investigators found.

“There’s no standard time,” he said.  He said a criminal charge is “reserved for really extreme cases.”

I’d say this case qualifies as “really extreme.”

Is the Charlotte police department avoiding any charges of “cover-up” by so swiftly charging Kerrick with a crime or are they insulating themselves from a wrongful death lawsuit and throwing a rookie cop to the wolves?

Why did police initially describe Kerrick’s shooting of Ferrell as appropriate and lawful,” but later change their tune to “excessive?”

So many questions. So few answers.

I’d like to be fair. I’d like to be reasonable. I’d like to assume this was simply a case of a bad accident that spiraled into a horrible tragedy.

I’d like that. But that requires a degree of objectivity  I ‘m not certain I should extend to Kerrick and the other cops.

Jonathan Ferrell was not given the benefit of the doubt and he was presumed guilty (of something) and a trigger-happy cop overreacted and killed an innocent man.

Now we arrive to the question nobody really wants to ask: Does the race of Ferrell and Kerrick factor into this?

This is America. How could it not?