Earlier today, suspended Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall Kerrick had his first hearing in Superior Court on voluntary manslaughter charges. Kerrick stands accused of shooting 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell on Sept. 14, 2013, as Ferrell sought help after wrecking his car around 2 a.m.
Kerrick’s sitting hearing, a routine part of the court process, took less than 10 minutes. The prosecution made a motion for additional and reciprocal discovery, and the defense attorney agreed to a second hearing set for Feb. 5, 2015, at 2 p.m.
Police say Kerrick fired 12 shots and hit Ferrell 10 times. The incident was recorded on the patrol car’s dash cam, which has yet to be released to the public. Kerrick was charged, but it took two grand juries to indict him in January.
Kerrick’s case is playing out against a backdrop of national protests and a heightened sense of injustice over officer-involved shootings of unarmed African Americans. Charlotte is not exempt; in the late 1990s, several unarmed African Americans were killed by police, including Wendy Gail Thompson, Carolyn S. Boetticher and Willie Cooper.
Outside of the courtroom today, a small group of observers gathered. As Kerrick and his attorneys exited, a young woman called out, “You are a killer, you are a murderer.”
Brandy Hamilton, who was there with a friend, says she will be at every Kerrick hearing that she can make. "I'm outraged by the injustice, and I'm trying to hold onto hope. I'm tired of black boys dying at the hands of white cops."
Hamilton was at the "die-in" protest Tuesday at Trade and Tryon streets, but complained that the organizers gave CMPD too much control. The protest blocked the busy intersection with prone bodies for about 30 minutes.
A slightly larger crowd of about 20 waited outside the courthouse for Kerrick. Rev. Raymond Johnson of Marion, South Carolina, made the nearly three-hour drive "to show support as a preacher for the family in this terrible situation."
When Kerrick appeared after 45 minutes, a chant started up: "No justice, no peace, no racist police."
Kerrick's attorneys hustled him down a narrow side stairwell, where members of the news media crowded with cameras, effectively blocking him from the protesters, which angered some in the crowd. The chants grew louder, with one woman beating her breast and crying, "No justice, no peace, no racist-ass police."
Kerrick's attorneys George Laughrun and Michael Greene maintain their client's innocence and say his actions were within the scope of his training.
Ferrell was a former FAMU football player who had recently moved to Charlotte. His family has filed a civil lawsuit alleging wrongful death.