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N.C. officer charged in fatal shooting to appear in court

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Updated: 9/17/2013 12:40 pm
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WSOC-TV) — A controversial case involving a police officer and an unarmed man will go to court for the first time Tuesday afternoon.

Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of Jonathan Ferrell.

Ferrell crashed his car early Saturday morning and knocked on a woman’s door on Reedy Creek Road in east Charlotte to ask for help. That woman called police. Her husband told Eyewitness News early Tuesday that she was home alone with their baby and was scared by the banging on the door.

Officers said Ferrell ran at them when they arrived. One officer tried to use a stun gun to stop Ferrell, but police officials will only say it didn’t work. That’s when police said Kerrick opened fire, striking Ferrell 10 times.

It’s rare that a police officer faces criminal charges for a shooting while on-duty, and even more rare for the officer to be charged so quickly.

“I do not recall a case that either I've been involved with or that I've even heard of where an officer has been criminally charged the same day as the underlying incident occurred,” said attorney Scott Maclatchie, a former police officer who represents officers sued after fatal shootings.

Police officials said the decision to charge Kerrick came after reviewing dash camera video from the police cruisers that responded to the call and after speaking with prosecutors. Although Ferrell ran out of the cameras’ view before the fatal shooting, the video shows him lifting his clothing, likely to show that he was unarmed.

A statement from police says, “Evidence revealed that Mr. Ferrell did advance on Officer Kerrick however; the subsequent shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive and violated (the voluntary manslaughter statute). Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”

It continues, “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.”

If convicted, Kerrick could face jail time.

Maclatchie pointed out that a civil case could follow.

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