Grand Jury Declines to Indict North Carolina Cop Who Shot an Unarmed Motorist 10 Times at Close Range

Florida A&MFlorida A&MYesterday a North Carolina grand jury declined to indict Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick for voluntary manslaughter in connection with the September 14 shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed motorist who apparently was seeking help after an early-morning crash. Kerrick, who was responding to a burglary report, fired 12 rounds at Ferrell from a few feet away, striking the 24-year-old former Florida A&M football player 10 times. Kerrick said Ferrell was moving toward him and two other officers and did not stop when instructed to do so. "The officers gave several verbal commands to 'get on the ground, get on the ground,' at least three commands," one of Kerrick's attorneys told reporters. "He continued approaching the officers, advancing toward them."

Kerrick, who had been on the force three years at the time, was charged with voluntary manslaughter later that same day. The Charlotte Observer reports that Police Chief Rodney Monroe and his top commanders made the unusually swift decision after watching a 15-second video of the encounter captured by a camera mounted on a police car.

The grand jurors asked North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is handling the case because the local district attorney used to work with Kerrick's lawyers, to "submit a bill of indictment to a lesser-included or related offense." That request is puzzling for a couple of reasons. Assuming the shooting was not justified (which is for the jury at Kerrick's trial to determine), it is hard to see how it would not amount to voluntary manslaughter, which North Carolina defines as "the unlawful killing of a human being by an intentional act." There is no dispute that Kerrick shot Ferrell on purpose or that the gunshots killed him. If Kerrick reasonably believed shooting Ferrrell was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily harm, the shooting was justified as an act of self-defense. But if not, how could it be anything but voluntary manslaughter? It does not seem to meet the criteria for involuntary manslaughter, which is "the unintentional killing of a human being by an unlawful act not amounting to a felony, or by an act done in a criminally negligent way." In any case, if Kerrick were charged with voluntary manslaughter (a Class D felony with a presumptive sentencing range of 51 to 64 months), the jury would still have the option of finding him guilty of involuntary manslaughter (a Class F felony with a presumptive sentencing range of 13 to 16 months).

When police officers are accused of wrongdoing, their bosses tend to defend them or reserve judgment until an investigation is completed, which generally takes weeks or even months. The fact that the police department in this case quickly decided that a manslaughter charge was appropriate suggests the recording of the shooting was pretty damning. It is not clear whether the grand jurors watched the video, which has not been released to the general public.

Although the basis for the decision in this case is murky, it is in a sense refreshing to see a grand jury decline to indict someone for a change. According to Steve Ward, a former prosecutor interviewed by the Observer, that happens maybe 10 times a year in Mecklenburg County, where thousands of indictments are issued each year. Ward said he had never heard of a grand jury requesting a lesser charge. The rubber-stamp tendencies of modern grand juries make it hard to take them seriously as check against prosecutorial power.

Cooper, the attorney general, now has the option of complying with the request for a lesser charge or asking again for the same indictment. Two grand juries are empaneled at any given time in Mecklenburg County, serving on alternate weeks. Cooper could even go back to the same grand jury. Twelve votes are needed for an indictment, and several of the grand jury's 18 members were absent yesterday. Cooper said "it would be in the best interest of justice to resubmit this case to a full grand jury, which we plan to do as soon as possible."

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  • Almanian (sans exclamation pt)||

    Officer Kerrick got to go home to his family. So it was a good shoot. hth

  • SusanM||

  • Virginian||

    Yeah the Charlotte cops would have done the same to noted black men Michael Jordan and Cam Newton.

    It's not about race, it's about if the media will pitch a fit over you. What was the name of that white punk who got up into a black homeowners face, and got shot to death? No one knows. But everyone knows who Trayvon Martin was.

    It's all about the narrative.

  • SusanM||

    If Zimmerman had just made his report to the cops and left it at that rather than go out of his way to pursue and confront Martin (of whom no criminal intent has been proven even now) then nothing would have happened. There's no evidence he got up into anyone's face except perhaps as an act of self-defense.

    The pro-2a'ers need the narrative that Zim was this aggrieved person defending himself - which barely held up until he got busted for a potentially violent confrontation with his ex-wife and her family.

  • Nater||

    Zimmerman attempted to keep Martin in sight without approaching, as you are supposed to do in that situation. After losing track of Martin, Zimmerman was on his way back to his SUV when he was confronted by Martin who had been hiding in some bushes.

    What happened with his wife had nothing to do with it.

  • Intn'l House of Badass||

    The anti-2a'ers need the narrative that Zim is this potentially violent abuser - which barely held up until his girlfriend withdrew the unsubstantiated allegations and moved back in with him.

    Have fun fucking yourself.

  • Redmanfms||

    If Zimmerman had just made his report to the cops and left it at that rather than go out of his way to pursue and confront Martin (of whom no criminal intent has been proven even now) then nothing would have happened. There's no evidence he got up into anyone's face except perhaps as an act of self-defense.

    Except that's not what happened at all. He did in fact, get up into Zimmerman's face. Zimmerman lost track of him, was returning to his truck when Martin doubled back (after calling his girlfriend and telling her that's what he was going to do), jumped Zimmerman, and was on top of him and beating his head into the pavement when Zimmerman shot him.


    OT and BTW, I notice you deleted the post on your blog that shows what a racist pile of shit you are...

  • Andrew S.||

    So if I wear a government-issued costume, I get to kill anyone I want without consequence? Because that's what I've learned recently.

    Seriously, I'm just numb to this stuff now. I give up. We (and by that I mean the country) have lost. And lost badly. I just don't know what to do anymore.

  • Duke||

    I’ve been harping on the judges. The judges hold the cards here. They could easily start disbelieving cops, refusing to dismiss Sec. 1983 cases against cops, suppress evidence wrongfully obtained from cops, and so on. The judges could go a long way towards putting cops in their place.

    But they don’t. They buddy up with them to appear “tough on crime."

  • sarcasmic||

    Judges will never hold police accountable because then they would get the peasant treatment when they get pulled over or otherwise have to deal with the police.

  • Paul.||

    It's the Kelly Thomas era. Surprise is no longer an acceptable response to these outcomes.

  • Shocked||

    So if you are too sick, injured or disabled to respond to verbal commands its a license for our brave protectors to shoot to kill. Or maybe being black is the kicker. This case needs the Trayvon Martin treatment but won't since it involved our heroes.

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    Amazing. You can't even just blame the law enforcement agencies, their unions, the prosecution or the judges. Multiple juries have been given opportunities to hold the LEOs responsible for their own actions, and the juries have abdicated.

  • Homple||

    I wonder if the possibility of police retaliation had anything to do with the no bill finding. The cops will know the name, address, employer, driver's license, vehicle registration, and who knows what else about every juror. If the police don't mind pumping a dozen bullets into an unarmed citizen they would be qualmless about having one of their clever-hans dogs "indicating" a juror's car and planting felony-sized quantities of illegal substances in it.

  • ||

    There have been indications that this is exactly what happened in the Kelly Thomas case. The court was supposedly packed with uniformed officers who would glare at the witnesses and jurors. A complete farce, but that's what our "justice" system is anyway.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    As the DA that prosecuted the case has had the habit in the past of allowing cops clearly engaging in criminal conduct to skate, I suspect that the case was thrown in the voir dire stage.

  • John Thacker||

    I'm at a loss as well to explain any logic behind the "lesser charge" request, other than just a split the baby type thing.

  • Paul.||

    Although the basis for the decision in this case is murky, it is in a sense refreshing to see a grand jury decline to indict someone for a change.

    Thank god. Finally the police are getting justice!

  • Calidissident||

    Yeah I strongly disagreed with that. If this was a "normal" case with questionable evidence I'd agree. But in all likelihood this is just an example of cops getting preferential treatment, even when there's enough evidence for their superiors to immediately fire and charge them.

  • croaker||

    It's happened before. Two Albany (NY) cops got no billed after they opened fire on a DUI, claiming the drunk was trying to run them down. Didn't hit the car, didn't hit the drunk, but a stray round killed an innocent bystander.

  • Duke||

    You beat me to it. How is it “in a sense refreshing” for a venire of people who couldn’t get out of jury duty to refuse to indict a cop?! I would totally expect the average citizen to side with the cops. For every single TV show tells me cops are heroes -- TV DOES NOT LIE.

  • JW||

    Yesterday a North Carolina grand jury declined to indict Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick for voluntary manslaughter in connection with the September 14 shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed motorist who apparently was seeking help after an early-morning crash.

    WHAT IN THE FUCKING FUCK IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?

    Are they only recruiting jurors who are sufferers of dementia?

  • ||

    Have you ever been in a jury selection pool? They are absolutely, unquestionably trying to find the most impressionable, retarded, instruction-following morons they can. It's so obvious it's pathetic, but that's what goes on.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's a grand jury. The grand jury isn't like a regular jury that gets to hear both sides. It's basically controlled by the prosecutor.

    In states that still have them, in theory, a grand jury can be quite powerful and is supposed to be a check on bad or evil prosecutors. We can see how well that works today.

  • creech||

    Perhaps Mr. Ferrell has an aging dying relative who can reason/seek justice with LEO Kerrick?

  • Another David||

    I guess you can't indict a ham sandwich with a badge pinned to it.

  • Homple||

    Well put.

  • AustinRoth||

    Remember, most cops are nothing more than a cabal of murderous, thieving, lying criminals that have the good fortune of not getting caught prior to joining the force.

    The few good ones out there give the rest the thin veil of cover they need to continue their jackboot tactics.

  • sarcasmic||

    If good cops existed, they would do something about bad cops. Because nothing is done about bad cops, my conclusion is that good cops don't exist.

  • Redmanfms||

    I was told by a friend of mine who quit being a cop after a relatively short term and took a big hit in pay afterwards that there are only three types of cops, rookies who really believe they are going to "serve and protect" the public as "peace officers," bad cops, and cops that cover for bad cops but don't themselves engage in bad cop stuff. He told me that if I wanted a good primer on what he actually saw other cops do while he was a cop I should watch Bad Lieutenant.

    This was a guy who was at a fairly small agency in a low(no)-crime rural town.

    I've met a couple career cops who were stand up guys, even in their cop jobs, but guys who take their oath seriously and don't let the adversities of the job get to them (or weren't power-mad lunatics in the first place) are few.

    We probably ought to have term limits for cops.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Being "well-trained", you'd think he would stop after 2 or 3 shots.

  • Almanian (sans exclamation pt)||

    Ok, not gonna lie - my initial big takeaway was, "Holy FUCK - a cop connected on 10 of 12 shots?!! He must have been to 'dunphy Firearms Training™' or something..."

    I am not proud of this.

  • Aloysious||

    Anybody surprised?

    Anybody?

    No?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    *Walks in, flips the table over, throws a chair through a window, walks back out.*

    Fuck this shit.

  • RishJoMo||

    That really ticks me off man! Its POS cops like this I just LOVE to hear about in the news getting clipped in the line of duty!

    www.AnonWork.tk

  • Andrew Jackson||

    He "charged" at an officer after repeated commands to stop and get down.

    A jury found the officer so innocent from the video and evidence that it wasn't worth a trial.

    And you idiots complain about police brutality? Just so you're aware, you're helping the real criminal cops out there get away with what they do because you morons focus on the instances where a cop isn't actually guilty.

    You're essentially worse than the cops that break the law at this point.

  • Virginian||

    You are aware that this guy was not a criminal at all, but a motorist staggering from a car crash in need of medical attention, right?

  • Andrew Jackson||

    Did you even bother to read the first paragraph?

    I'm guessing not. Selective reading.

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