Federal judge says civil case against Charlotte police officer should move forward

The family of Jonathan Ferrell just got a small victory in federal court. Judge Graham Mullen said their attorney should be given some of the evidence gathered for the criminal case against a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer.

The City of Charlotte, also named in the civil lawsuit, had asked for a stay, or delay in the civil case until the criminal proceeding was over.

Judge Mullen allowed for a 60 day stay for both sides to work out details of what evidence will be discussed and handed over.

Police say Ferrell was shot in September by CMPD Officer Randall Kerrick, who is charged with voluntary manslaughter. Investigators say Ferrell was unarmed and shot ten times.

Ferrell had wrecked his car, lost his cellphone and was seeking help according to police.

Minutes before the shooting, Ferrell had knocked on a neighbor's door asking for help, but the woman called 911 to report a suspicious person. It was overnight and the woman did not know Ferrell.

Ferrell was shot as he approached the officers, including Kerrick, who came to the neighborhood in response to that 911 call.

Ferrell's family argues that Jonathan's civil rights were violated when Kerrick shot him so many times and handcuffed him as he lay dying.

City Attorney Mark Newbold argued it was necessary to stay the civil case because of Kerrick's right to a fair criminal trial. He said the city was concerned about Kerrick possibly incriminating himself in the civil case, before the criminal matter is finished. Strategy and evidence would be revealed.

Ferrell's family says they have a right to see the matter move forward without unnecessary delay. Their attorney, Charles Monnett, III, said without any discovery being handed over they are at a standstill.

Often civil cases are heard after criminal cases are resolved. Criminal court has a higher burden of proof compared to civil court.

Judge Mullen said Monnett should have access to the dash cam from the shooting and a chance to interview the two other officers at the scene who responded with Kerrick that night. Mullen said the officers need their testimony preserved by deposition, in case something happened to them.

As a protection for Kerrick, Judge Mullen said Monnett will not be able to question Kerrick under a deposition until later.

There's been little movement publicly in the criminal matter. The last court filing was in March of this year. So far thousands of pages of evidence have been exchanged, but no trial or plea date has been set.

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