CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The deadly encounter was set in motion when a former college football player survived a wreck and went searching for help in the middle of the night. A frightened woman heard him pounding and opened her front door, then called police. Officers found the unarmed man, and one shot him when a Taser failed to stop him from approaching.
Within hours, investigators determined that the shooting had been excessive and charged the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer with voluntary manslaughter in the death of former Florida A&M University football player Jonathan A. Ferrell.
Ferrell, 24, played for Florida A&M in 2009 and 2010, school officials said Sunday. He had recently moved to North Carolina.
Early Saturday, he had apparently been in a wreck and was seeking help at a nearby house, according to a statement from Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. A woman answered the door and, when she didn’t recognize the man, called 911.
Officers responding to the breaking and entering call found Ferrell a short distance from the home, police said. As they approached him, Ferrell ran toward the officers, who tried to stop him with a Taser. Police said he continued to run toward them when officer Randall Kerrick fired his gun, hitting Ferrell several times. Ferrell died at the scene.
Police called Ferrell and Kerrick’s initial encounter “appropriate and lawful.” But in their statement late Saturday, they said “the investigation showed that the subsequent shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive” and “Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”
Police said Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter, which under North Carolina law involves killing without malice using “excessive force” in exercising “imperfect self-defense.”
Police were not expected to offer further details Sunday, said Officer Keith Trietley, a department spokesman. The report was not available Sunday.
Kerrick, 27, of Midland, turned himself in for booking Saturday evening and was released on $50,000 bond, according to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office website. Kerrick joined the police force in April 2011. He has a first appearance court hearing scheduled today.
FAMU Interim Athletic Director Michael Smith said Ferrell played the safety position for the school’s football team during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to his family during their time of bereavement,” Smith said in an emailed statement.
A search of public records indicated that Ferrell began living in Charlotte early this year after moving from Tallahassee, Fla., home to FAMU.
Police Chief Rodney Monroe described the auto accident in a news conference: Ferrell was driving a vehicle that crashed into trees off a northeast Charlotte road early Saturday, and the wreck was so severe he would have had to climb out of the back window to escape. Monroe said he didn’t know what caused the crash and didn’t say whether Ferrell suffered injuries.
Ferrell apparently walked about a half-mile to the nearest house and was “banging on the door viciously” to attract attention, Monroe said. Thinking it was her husband coming home late from work, the woman who lives there opened the door. When she saw Ferrell, she shut it and called police about 2:30 a.m., Monroe said.
Monroe said he didn’t think the unarmed Ferrell made threats or tried to rob the woman.