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Randall Kerrick takes the stand in his own defense

Published: Aug. 13, 2015 at 7:58 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2015 at 7:58 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Officer Randall Wes Kerrick took the stand in his own defense, and he explains why he shot Jonathan Ferrell ten times.

"He was going to assault me.  He was going to take my gun from me.  No matter what I did he wouldn't stop.  I wasn't sure how many rounds I had fired none of them affected him in any way. I didn't think my gun was working," Kerrick told the jury Thursday afternoon.

Kerrick cried several times on the stand. He first got choked up talking about his wife, child, and dream of becoming a police officer.  He explained how his mom died when he was 4 years old, and that his father is disabled so he started working when he was 15 to support the family.  He didn't go to college and became an animal control officer first because it was suggested he get some experience before becoming a police officer.

The defense slowly built his personal storyline and gave him a chance to connect with the jury. Defense attorney Michael Greene called Kerrick down from the stand to show the jury his uniform taken into evidence and to describe a picture of the scene from that night.

PHOTOS: Randall "Wes" Kerrick takes stand in own defense

After a short break, the defense started asking Kerrick about the early morning he shot Jonathan Ferrell and those few seconds which took place out of the view of the dashcam.

"He just ran through a taser, which at the time at the time, I thought worked," Kerrick said, "I absolutely had no idea if he had a weapon on him or not."

Kerrick said he is 5'7", weighing 157 lbs  He said Ferrell was much bigger and stronger.  He estimated Ferrell was over 5'9" and weighed about 200 lbs.

Kerrick said when Ferrell got within arms reach he pulled his service weapon.

"At some point we made physical contact and I ended up on my back," Kerrick said, "He was on the lower half of my body."

Kerrick explained they had fallen into a ditch and that it was very dark.  He stepped in front of the jury again and laid on the ground demonstrating the position he was in while in the ditch with Ferrell.  He also yelled from the stand a couple times to give the jury an understanding how loud he was yelling commands like, "Get on the ground," and "Don't move.  Don't move."

He said while in the ditch he felt Ferrell jerk on his gun, on his right arm, and hit him in the face as well.

"I thought I was going to die because nothing I would do would stop him," Kerrick said while crying.

Lawyer James Exum was in the courtroom and says Kerrick's composure was on point, he was emotional at the appropriate times. He says Kerrick humanized himself after shooting a man 10 times. And he delivered the self-defense argument.

"You have to not be the aggressor, you have to have fear for your life, or the life of someone else. And I think he established that specifically where he explains he felt like Mr. Ferrell was going for his gun.  Now the jury will decide what way that goes. But that's pretty riveting testimony and certainly meets the standard that the defense needs to and it's going to make it difficult for the prosecution to unprove self defense."

Officer Thornell Little, also took the stand Thursday.  He is the officer who shot his taser at Jonathan Ferrell prior to Kerrick shooting his gun.  Little's testimony was not as emotional but it did get heated during cross examination with the prosecution.

Little had to explain why he pulled a taser on Ferrell. He said, "When I was in my vehicle coming down the road I could see him.  He was pacing. And he was doing motions with his hands…..He walks towards me and I hear him say shoot me twice."

The prosecution made him watch the dashcam video several times and asked him if Ferrell is doing more than walking when he first appears and if Little hears anything.

"Did you hear him say 'shoot me, shoot me?'" Adren Harris, the prosecutor asked Little.

"I just heard get on the ground," Little responded.

On redirect, Michael Greene asked Little if things happen that were not on the video.  Little said, "Yes."

Friday Kerrick will be back on the stand. The jury last saw Kerrick pointing to photos of mud on his uniform and his injuries to his lip and arm.

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