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Randall KerrickCHARLOTTE, NC  – A Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer has been charged with manslaughter within a few hours of shooting and killing an an unarmed man.

There are still some unanswered questions regarding this incident and what we do know is that Jonathan Ferrell got into a single-car accident in a wooded area early Saturday morning. The wreck was so bad that  Ferrell had to crawl through the back window of the vehicle to get out.

Ferrell wandered a half mile before emerging from the wooded area into a nearby neighborhood. He went to a home and began banging “violently” on the front door. The woman inside opened the door, thinking it was her husband returning home from work. When she saw a large black man standing on her front porch, she shut the door and called 911.

What happened when police arrived on the scene is where some of the details are lacking. Camera footage taken from responding officer’s patrol car show an unarmed Ferrell running towards the officers while lifting up his shirt. Ferrell’s family members say police never gave him any commands to stop, yet Officer Thornell Little deployed his Taser at Ferrell but it failed to stop Ferrell.

Jonathan Ferrell

Jonathan Ferrell

When Ferrell continued to run towards Officer Randall Kerrick, who already had his service weapon drawn, Kerrick fired his gun 12 times, hitting Ferrell 10 times. Ferrell was pronounced dead at the scene and within hours, Kerrick had been charged with voluntary manslaughter.

According to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office, two assistant DAs were on the scene of the shooting that night, but it was the police department that decided to file charges against one of their own.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department issued a statement, saying evidence revealed Officer Kerrick’s use of force was excessive and fit the criteria for voluntary manslaughter. They say Ferrell was not armed and that Kerrick didn’t have to fire his weapon.

Charging an officer with a crime so quickly after a shooting incident like this could mean a couple things, one being that he committed a crime, and the other being that the city was trying to quickly curtail any racial tensions that may have arisen from not charging the officer for shooting Ferrell.

More details are sure to come, and nothing will change the fact that Officer Kerrick unloaded a clip into an unarmed man, but I’d like to know why Ferrell was acting the way he was. Everyone knows not to run at cops who have their weapons drawn on you, no matter what color you are.

I can only assume Ferrell was not thinking rationally. Maybe he was suffering from injuries from the wreck, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or possibly all of the above.

Officer Kerrick is on paid administrative leave and will be in court this morning. Officer Little and Officer Adam Neal have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the shooting investigation.

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