CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Taking a civil suit to trial has its risks. In the federal case of the Ferrell family versus the City of Charlotte, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police, and Officer Randall Kerrick - either side faced a devastating result. The city could have been slapped with a judgement in the tens of millions of dollars. Jonathan Ferrell's mother could have had the case thrown out.
In the end, the two sides decided to settle the civil right claims.
"Most cities don't settle these cases," said Chris Chestnut, the attorney representing the Ferrell family. "They take them to trial and win most of them. So it says a lot that the city resolved this case at this point in time."
In a telephone interview with WBTV, Chestnut said the two sides started with mediation. A couple of months ago they began negotiations, and on Thursday Charlotte city officials announced a $2.25M settlement.
The end of the civil suit comes more than a year and half after Officer Kerrick shot Ferrell ten times. Kerrick says he acted in self defense because Ferrell kept advancing but investigators charged Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter. He's been suspended without pay as he awaits his criminal trial.
Charlotte officials said the civil suit settlement covers the city and Officer Kerrick. They said it's not an admission of guilt.
"But I certainly think that there was an acknowledgement by the city that Officer Kerrick's acts were grossly negligent. This shooting was unnecessary. It was unwarranted, the family's attorney said.
Attorney Chestnut said no amount of money can console Ferrell's mother.
"It's an act so egregious that so disrupted Ms. Ferrell's life that no amount of money would really make her whole," he said.
The settlement is the highest amount the city has paid for a CMPD case.
Chestnut said his client wanted something more valuable than money. A say.
He said Georgia Ferrell's primary motivation was to get "non monetary provisions" that she wouldn't have gotten with a verdict.
"To work with the city of Charlotte in the future to discourage this type of activity and to promote understanding between everyday citizens and law enforcement so that situations don't escalate to a point where someone is shot" Chestnut said.
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