Activists hold vigil to commemorate officer-involved shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell

Activists call for changes 7 years after deadly shooting

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A few dozen people gathered in Marshall Park Monday night to honor the life of Jonathan Ferrell. Monday marked the 7th anniversary of the 24-year-old’s shooting death.

Ferrell was shot and killed by former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer Randall Kerrick back in 2013. The incident happened in the Reedy Creek community. Ferrell had been involved in a car accident and knocked on the door of a house after the wreck. Someone in the home called 9-1-1 and the police responded to the crash site.

Dashcam video from a police cruiser shows Ferrell running at the officers. Kerrick fired several shots at Ferrell, killing him.

The then-officer was ultimately indicted for voluntary manslaughter. Kerrick’s case was tried in Mecklenburg County and ended in a mistrial.

The city of Charlotte settled with Ferrell’s family in a civil suit before the trial and mistrial. The family received $2,250,000.

WBTV spoke to Ferrell’s brother, Willie, in a Zoom interview Monday night. Willie Ferrell lives in Florida, but said his family still honors Jonathan’s life on the anniversary of the young man’s death.

“Today, I closed my gym down and a lot of my clients recognize it. A lot of my friends and family, we recognize today just so we have something special for Jonathan,” explained Willie Ferrell.

He said still misses his brother and still contends that Jonathan’s killing was unjustified.

“I think there was more ways for someone to handle the situation, no matter if he knew my brother or not, there’s more different ways to handle situations so I think that situation was very tough and I think it was not justifiable,” said Willie Ferrell.

In Marshall Park Monday night, a poster of Ferrell’s face was surrounded by candles. People at the gathering left social justice messages in chalk writing.

Jibril Hough, an activist in Charlotte, said he doesn’t want Ferrell’s story to be overlooked by the citizens of Charlotte as people protest social injustice across the country.

“We really feel like he’s a part of us, and before all these big names that you’re hearing now – all the hashtags – we had Jonathan Ferrell,” said Hough.

The activist said he’d still like to see the CMPD make more changes when it comes to policing protocol.

“We definitely need more transparency. It seems like it’s always harder to get videos, information,” said Hough.

Charles Monnett, a Charlotte attorney, has represented the families of people killed by police in Charlotte. He said he believes more can be done by police when it comes to deescalation, but he recognizes the department has made some changes that have improved transparency.

“Greater implementation of body cameras is progress – better documentation of these encounters. It is much more difficult for one of these encounters to occur where only the police version is made available to the public,” said Monnett.

The attorney noted that both members of the police and the public need to help bridge the divide between law enforcement and their communities.

“There’s room for improvement on both sides. It’s not all on the community and not all on the police. To truly solve this problem, it has to be a community effort by both sides,” said Monnett.

Willie Ferrell said he too has seen some improvements when it comes to police-community relations, but more needs to be done.

“Of course, every officer is not gonna be good and every officer is not gonna be bad, just as every African-American is not gonna be a robber, a killer or anything derogatory or negative image so it has improved but at the same time we have so much more work that we have to do,” said Willie Ferrell.

He said his family is still working to help young people go to college through their work with the Jonathan Ferrell Foundation.

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