Police release audio from night of officer involved shooting

Police shooting: Why charges were filed quickly
Published: Jul. 10, 2015 at 6:39 PM EDT
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Jonathan Ferrell was fatally shot during a police incident on Saturday morning (Photo source:...
Jonathan Ferrell was fatally shot during a police incident on Saturday morning (Photo source: Family members)
Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter in a deadly shooting from...
Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter in a deadly shooting from Saturday morning (Photo courtesy: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police)
Ferrell's family at a press conference on Monday morning in Charlotte
Ferrell's family at a press conference on Monday morning in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - On Friday night, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released audio from the 9-1-1 tapes of the officer involved shooting which took place in early September.

The audio from the call says shots were fired and the suspect, later identified by police as Jonathan Ferrell, is down.

Watch the attached video to hear sound from the 9-1-1 audio files.

An initial autopsy says Ferrell died during a police shooting from "multiple gunshot wounds" to his chest.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe says Jonathan Ferrell was shot and killed on Saturday September 14th by CMPD officer Randall Kerrick.

Investigators told WBTV that Officer Kerrick fired his weapon 12 times and struck Ferrell 10 times resulting in his death.

Kerrick's attorney, George Laughrun spoke to the media after viewing the dash cam video. The video has not been made public.

"The officers gave several verbal commands to 'get on the ground, get on the ground', at least three commands," he said. "He continued approaching the officers, advancing toward them."

Laughrun said the video shows Ferrell never put his hands up.

"He hands were not up in the air," he recalled. "At one time, one of his hands was behind his back."

When WBTV spoke to the Ferrell family attorney Chris Chestnut on Tuesday, his recount of that dash cam video focused on the sequence of gunfire.

"No, he didn't panic," he said. "He knew what he was doing. He shot, paused, shot again. Paused, shot again -- he killed."

Chestnut also pointed out that Ferrell was clearly outnumbered that night.

"It was three on 1, he said. "It's three on 1. These are trained officers, trained in defensive tactics. Three to 1, no need to shoot."

But Kerrick's attorney disagree and told WBTV the officer was just doing what he was trained to do.

"Of course, he's remorseful that somebody lost their life," Laughrun said. "But he felt like he did what he was trained to do by CMPD."

According to police, the shooting happened along the 7500 block of Reedy Creek Road early Saturday morning.

Investigators found a wrecked vehicle down an embankment in the woods, a quarter of a mile from where Ferrell was shot and killed.

They say wrecked his car on Reedy Creek Road Saturday morning and that Ferrell had to escape out the back window of his car.

Detectives are working to determine if Ferrell was trying to get assistance at the residence where the 911 call was placed.

A woman called 911 and said a man knocked on her door and she opened it, thinking it was her husband coming home from work. She said the man stood outside the door for a period of time, and tried to get the attention of the homeowner.

When officers arrived at the home, they found Jonathan Ferrell near the home. Ferrell matched the description of the man from the 911 call.

According to police, Ferrell approached three officers and ran towards them. Officer Thornell Little deployed his CMPD-issued Taser at Ferrell but it was unsuccessful.

Investigators said Ferrell continued to run toward Officer Randall Kerrick who had his service weapon drawn. Officer Kerrick discharged several rounds striking Ferrell multiple times according to police.

CMPD said officers on the scene thought Ferrell was a threat, but Kerrick was the only one who drew his gun and fired.

"The fact that Officer Kerrick discharged his weapon and that Mr. Ferrell was unarmed were some of the factors included in the decision to charge Officer Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter," police told WBTV.

According to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office, two assistant DAs were on the scene of the shooting.

WBTV has learned that police consulted with prosecutors but it was the police department that decided to file charges.

Officer Kerrick is on paid administrative leave and joined the CMPD police force in March 2010.

WBTV has learned that Kerrick started with the Animal Care and Control and transferred to the Hickory Grove Division in 2011.

He was disciplined back in December and was suspended for eight-hours. It is not clear why he was suspended.

Officer Little and a third police officer at the scene, Officer Adam Neal, have been placed on paid Administrative Leave pending the outcome of the shooting investigation.

Ferrell's mother and brother spoke at a news conference in Uptown Charlotte on Monday morning.

"I forgive him. I love God and God lives in me," Georgia Ferrell said on Monday morning. "Right now I am numb."

They said Ferrell was not a threat to officers on Saturday and say Officer Kerrick should not have a police badge.

They say Ferrell was never the type of person to harm anyone. Family members say officers gave no commands for Ferrell to stop before shooting him.

Attorney Christopher Chestnut said Officer Kerrick showed a "lack of humanity."

Chestnut says the family is ready to sue if that's what it takes to get answers in Ferrell's death.

"Our hearts go to Ferrell family, quite naturally, as well as the many members of the CMPD family. This is never something easy," Chief Monroe said.

Monroe also said it was with a heavy heart and significant regrets that it has come to this. But says he believes the facts led to this conclusion.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation released a statement about the shooting and investigation.

"The fatal shooting of Jonathan Ferrell by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer is profoundly tragic and deeply disturbing. As Chief Monroe stated this weekend, it is clear that the officer in question used excessive force," Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU-NC stated. "This tragic incident is a powerful reminder of why the citizens of Charlotte must have access to effective tools that will provide civilian review of police conduct and promote accountability within the department."

"There are two actions that Charlotte officials should take, without delay, to increase civilian oversight and make officers more accountable to the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect," Brook continued. "First, the city should take immediate steps to reform its ineffectual Citizens Review Board, which in 15 years has held only four hearings and never once ruled against the police department or for a citizen complainant. Second, officials should treat any footage taken by the cameras now being worn by some CMPD officers to record their interactions with citizens as a public record and make these recordings accessible to the public."

Brook says citizens must be allowed to review the actions of police officers in meaningful ways that will provide oversight, hold appropriate parties accountable, and make the people of Charlotte safer and more secure.

Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee told WBTV that the incident doesn't spark an officer training concern for the city.

"Any incident you have - public safety, police, fire, utilities - you always have to learn from it, but I'm not seeing anything - at this point - that I would describe as systemic problem with training," Carlee told WBTV. "But everything will be looked at very carefully."

Carlee says he hasn't heard directly from any police officers, but says some may be concerned about the shooting.

"I would be concerned. This is a very challenging case and my heart goes out to Mr. Ferrell's family, and the tragic loss, but I'm also very concerned about the officer as well," Carlee told WBTV. "I think we need to keep everybody in our thoughts and prayers. This is very difficult for everybody."

Christopher Chestnut is the same lawyer who represented the family of Robert Champion, the Florida A&M University student who died in a hazing incident in 2010. Ferrell played football at Florida A&M.

Chestnut also represented the family of Delvonte Tisdale, the Charlotte teen who climb into the wheel well of a plane at Charlotte-Douglas International airport and later fell to his death.

Kerrick is a member of the Local Fraternal Order of Police and that organization will offer legal assistance.

In addition to attending college at Florida A&M, Ferrell was a former student at Johnson C. Smith University. He was last enrolled at JCSU in spring 2012.

"We are saddened to hear about Mr. Ferrell's death," the school released in a statement on Monday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time."

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 704-432-TIPS and speak directly to a Homicide Unit Detective.

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