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.

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.

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?