A grand jury has indicted a North Carolina police officer on charges of voluntary manslaughter in the September 14 shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell.
Ferrell, a 24-year-old former college football player, died after Charlotte Mecklenburg Officer Randall Kerrick shot him multiple times. Ferrell had dragged himself from a car crash and sought help from neighbors last fall. Kerrick and other officers were called to the scene after a resident mistook Ferrell for a robber.
The indictment comes a week after a prior grand jury declined to indict Kerrick on manslaughter charges. Special Prosecutors from Attorney General Roy Cooper’s Office announced after the initial decision that they would resubmit the case because the initial grand jury was only a partial panel. Kerrick's lawyers have argued that the partial panel should have been sufficient.
The new grand jury's decision comes after hearing evidence from the State Bureau of Investigation and Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, but not from Kerrick's defense. Kerrick's lawyers reacted to Monday's decision in a statement released Tuesday.
"Officer Kerrick and his defense team are disappointed that the second Grand Jury indicted him for Voluntary Manslaughter," attorneys George Laughrun and Michael Greene said in a statement. "We are equally disappointed that the Attorney General's Office disregarded the voice of the first grand jury which was properly convened on January 21, 2014."
Laughrun & Greene called the indictment unsurprising, pointing to a "lower standard" for indictment compared to a trial, and also pointing out Cooper's public statements about the case and recent heightened attention from the media.
"Officer Kerrick and his family have the utmost confidence in the criminal justice system as evidenced by the many years of service that both he and his family have given to this and other communities in the law enforcement field," Laughrun and Greene added in their statement. "Officer Kerrick acted in conformity with the rules and procedures of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department and with state law. The shooting of Jonathan Ferrell was tragic but justified."Ferrell's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the case earlier this month. His mother, Georgia Ferrell, explained to Rev. Sharpton that she held no ill-will towards Kerrick, because she believed in forgiveness.
"I was told in Sunday school church from a child to forgive. Vengeance is mine, said the Lord, but he do speak of justice, and I want full justice," Georgia Ferrell said on PoliticsNation on Jan. 14.
Ferrell family lawyer Christopher Chesnut has pushed to have unreleased dashcam video of the incident made available to the public, arguing that it will show how Ferrell did nothing to provoke the attack.
"If you see the video, it is very telling that this is cold-blooded murder, that he was not an aggressor, that he posed no threat to Officer Kerrick," Chesnut said. "Officer Kerrick just killed him."