CHARLOTTE, NC (Michael Gordon/The Charlotte Observer) - The city of Charlotte is on the verge of settling a lawsuit over the 2013 shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell for $2.25 million, according to sources familiar with the case.
Ferrell was shot numerous times by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Randall Kerrick in September 2013. Ferrell was unarmed, and Kerrick is scheduled to go to trial on a voluntary manslaughter charge in July. The officer's attorneys say the shooting was tragic but justified.
Kerrick is the first CMPD officer charged with an on-duty shooting in at least three decades. Ferrell's family filed suit in January 2014 against the office, CMPD and city and county government. The civil trial in federal court had been scheduled to start in November.
The family stands to receive an amount that is three times higher than the $700,000 settlement the city reached January 2014 with the family of of a cellphone tower repairman fatally shot on the job by police in 2006.
On Sept. 14, 2013, Kerrick shot Ferrell 10 times from close range during nighttime encounter in a northeast Mecklenburg neighborhood. The officer had three years experience at the time.
Ferrell, 24, had wrecked his car, losing his cellphone in the process, and had knocked on the door of a nearby home in an apparent effort to get help. He was a former Florida A&M football player who had moved to Charlotte to be with his fiancée. That night he had given a co-worker a ride home.
A woman inside the house called 911, reporting that an unknown man was trying to break into her house. Her front door was damaged, and Kerrick's defense team has raised the possibility that Ferrell was trying to rob her.
Kerrick, one of three CMPD officers to respond to the call, was the only one who used his gun, police said. Ferrell approached and did not respond to orders that he lie on the ground, police said. Instead, he ran directly at Kerrick, police say.
Kerrick was arrested the same day and charged with voluntary manslaughter. Police Chief Rodney Monroe said his officer had used excessive force. He has remained on unpaid leave since shortly after the shooting.
The North Carolina attorney general's office is prosecuting the case after Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray recused himself and his office because he's a former law partner with Kerrick's defense team.
Kerrick has made one appearance in court, drawing a small but angry group of protesters. One woman cursed the officer in the courtroom and called him a killer.
Kerrick attorneys Michael Greene and George Laughrun attempted to move the trial outside of Mecklenburg County, arguing that the potential jury pool has been tainted by the coverage the shooting has received.
Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin refused, saying the case has drawn statewide attention and that there's nowhere to relocate the trial where jurors may not have read or heard reports about the case.