A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer has been charged with voluntary manslaughter after he allegedly shot and killed an unarmed man.
Officer Randall Kerrick, who joined the force in April 2011, was taken into custody for his involvement in the death of Jonathan Ferrell, who apparently was involved in a serious car crash and was seeking help at a nearby residence before his encounter with the police.
Police said Ferrell knocked on a door early in the morning. The woman inside thought it was her husband and opened the door, according to wsoctv.com.
"To her surprise it was a person she did not know or recognize. She immediately closed the door, hit her panic alarm and called 911," said Chief Rodney Monroe.
The Charlotte Observer reports the three officers who responded to the scene came across a man matching the description of the possible suspect, and they surrounded him. The man “immediately charged” at the police, Monroe said.
Officer Thornell Little unsuccessfully fired his Taser at Ferrell, who continued to run toward them, police said in a statement. The 27-year-old Kerrick then fired several rounds at Ferrell, who was shot multiple times and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
Monroe said the 24-year-old Ferrell was unarmed. The chief did not think he was trying to rob the woman, saying, “I don’t believe threats were made.”
Authorities said late Saturday that the initial encounter between Ferrell and Kerrick was “appropriate and lawful.” The evidence showed that Ferrell advanced on Kerrick, but the subsequent shooting of Ferrell was “excessive” and violated the law regarding voluntary manslaughter, according to police.
“Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter,” authorities said in a statement.
Monroe said, “It’s with heavy hearts and significant regrets it’s come to this. ... Our hearts go out to the Ferrell family and many members of the CMPD family. This is never something easy.”
Shortly after the shooting, police found a black car in some nearby woods. It had apparently crashed.
A quote in the Charlotte Observer states, "We believe that vehicle belonged to the individual who was shot. It's quite possible he was seeking assistance. Based on his accident, it was a pretty serious accident."
The two other officers were placed on administrative leave while internal affairs investigates exactly what happened.