Ever since September of last year, local and national news has been thick with suspense over the case of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell, who was gunned down by a police officer while seeking help from a motor vehicle accident in Charlotte, North Carolina.
At 2:30 a.m. on that fateful early morning, Jonathan Ferrell was on his way home from an after-work party when his car slid off a rural road. The wreck was intense, but Ferrell managed to kick out his back window, crawl from the embankment where the car landed, and make his way to a nearby house.
Inside the house, Sarah McCartney was alone with her one-year-old. The sound of someone knocking frightened her, as it might anyone. She instantly feared that something had happened to her husband. Without asking who it was, she opened the door.
A 911 call reveals Sarah McCartney’s panic. She sobbed to the dispatcher that someone was trying to break in and rob her, that she could hear him yelling outside.
Within moments, police arrived on the scene.
What Never Should Have Happened
Randall Kerrick was a 27-year-old officer who had been on the force only since 2011.
Kerrick was one of the responders to the scene and without identifying himself as a police officer to Ferrell, or giving a timely stop order, he opened fire. Ferrell, unarmed, took eight bullets to the chest, one to the abdomen and one to the arm.
Roadblocks to Answers
It was the autopsy that led the Ferrell family to become suspicious of the police conduct. It revealed that most of the bullets struck Ferrell in a downward trajectory, suggesting that he may have been on his knees or on the ground.
Immediately upon receiving this news, the family asked for more information about the shooting, including a request for Officer Kerrick’s personnel record and the footage from the police car dashboard camera. Though this information should have been easily obtainable through public record, the Ferrell family was denied access to it.
It was only after hiring an attorney and filing a wrongful death suit against the city and county government, along with Officer Kerrick and the Charlotte Police Department, that the truth began to come out.
Attorney Christopher Chestnut gained access to the dashboard camera footage. Watching it along with him was Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe who unequivocally agreed that Ferrell posed no clear threat to the police officers. The video shows that when the police officers approached, Ferrell turned and ran toward them, his empty hands outstretched.
It was alleged that officers initially tried stopping Ferrell with a Taser. When that failed, Ferrell kept approaching. He had nearly reached them when Officer Kerrick fired the first round of bullets.
The most questionable evidence is the manner in which the shots were fired. The video footage reveals an initial round of four gunshots, which took Ferrell to the ground. After a pause, six more shots were fired. Another pause, and a final two.
Once released, the evidence was more than enough to indict Officer Kerrick, who was sent on unpaid leave the day after the shooting. He will appear before a grand jury on January 21. Meanwhile, the family has added gross negligence to their charge of wrongful death in suing the city and the police force of Charlotte.
Without the aid of their attorney, the Ferrell family might never have obtained access to the records that cleared their son of suspicious behavior and revealed the inappropriate conduct of the police officer. If you’re having trouble getting the answers you need in a case where you suspect wrongful death, it could be that the offending party has a vested interest in keeping you ignorant of the truth.
The Answers You Need
Our team is waiting to help you get the answers you need. While there is no compensation that can make up for the loss of a loved one, seeking it is a way to receive closure on the tragedy. Let us help you get the resources you need. Fill out the contact form on the right-hand side of this page, or call (206) 443-7600 to discuss your case with one of the experienced lawyers at the Perey Law Group. Not only is the consultation is free, but payment is only contingent upon if we recover compensation for you.