Mecklenburg DA recuses himself from deadly police shooting case - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Mecklenburg DA recuses himself from deadly police shooting case

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The Mecklenburg County District Attorney has asked to be removed from prosecuting the case against a Charlotte police officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed man over the weekend.

According to DA Andrew Murray, he has asked the North Carolina Attorney General's Office to prosecute the case against Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall Kerrick.

Attorney General Roy Cooper's Office accepted the request on Thursday afternoon.

Kerrick is accused of shooting and killing 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell on Saturday. Officers were called to 7500 block of Reedy Creek Road early Saturday morning after a 911 call.

According to police, Ferrell approached three officers and ran towards them. One officer fired a Taser, but it was unsuccessful. Officer Randall Kerrick fired 12 rounds at Ferrell, hitting him ten times, according to an initial autopsy report.

The shooting has sparked division in the community, some supporting Officer Kerrick, others saying it was racially motivated.

Murray says the decision to remove himself is an effort to ensure the public has complete confidence in the integrity and fairness of the judicial process.

"This case is clearly a tragedy and we will work to bring it to a just resolution. We have accepted the Mecklenburg District Attorney's request to take over the prosecution of this case today," a statement from North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said. "Attorneys in our Special Prosecutions unit will handle its progress through the court system, and State Bureau of Investigation agents will conduct an independent investigation."

Before being elected as District Attorney, Murray was in private practice in Charlotte for 14 years. Two of his former partners are the attorneys who are now representing Kerrick.

The DA's office says there have been other cases in which the connection between the defendant and the DA's Office was close enough to potentially present the appearance of a conflict of interest. In those cases, Murray requested that either the Attorney General's Office or a prosecutor from another district assume the prosecution, allowing his office to withdraw from the case.

"The nature of the case against Mr. Kerrick is such that the community will be affected by any and all decisions regarding the prosecution and final disposition of the case," the District Attorney's office released in a statement on Thursday.

"It would be impossible for Mr. Murray to avoid involvement in the case if prosecuted by his office. Further, it is critical that the family of the victim, the defendant, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the citizens of our community have confidence that the case is handled objectively and impartially by the State's attorneys."

WBTV contacted the defense team for Officer Kerrick. One of the attorneys, George Laughrun, one of Murray's former partners at his old firm, told reporter Brigida Mack by phone Thursday night, "that's a call he felt like he had to make. We don't have a position on this because it doesn't affect us one way or the other. "

We also reached out to Chris Chestnut, the attorney for Ferrell's family. He has not returned our call yet. But in an interview with WBTV Tuesday, he said he would stay on top of every development in the case to make sure there is justice for Ferrell's family.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #9 President Todd Walther says Kerrick was a member of the local lodge.

"As a member in good standing with the lodge, we stand in support of Officer Kerrick during this difficult time," Walther told WBTV on Thurday.

"As an additional benefit to the FOP membership, the FOP, through its Legal Defense Fund, offers to assist in the legal defense of members in good standing with the State Lodge and their local lodge when such members face litigation or prosecution for acts within the scope of a member's employment as law enforcement officers," Walther said.

The DA's Office says it will review all cases in which Officer Kerrick is a police witness and decide whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed in those cases without his testimony.

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