For the past six months, Jonathan Ferrell has been a national example of police overzealousness after he was shot and killed by North Carolina cops while he was seeking help from them after a car accident. But now a partial grand jury has decided not to indict the officer who killed Ferrell.
Ferrell’s family was reportedly stunned when they got word that the grand jury, after meeting for eight hours on Tuesday, said it would not indict Officer Randall Kerrick on voluntary manslaughter and asked the district attorney to submit a bill of indictment for a lesser charge.
But Attorney General Roy Cooper released a statement indicating he would not be deterred.
“Today, our prosecutors learned that the grand jury that considered the indictment on charges of voluntary manslaughter was less than a full panel. It would be in the best interest of justice to resubmit this case to a full grand jury, which we plan to do as soon as possible,” Cooper said.
Twenty-four-year-old Ferrell, a former football player at Florida A&M described by family as kind and loving, was gunned down by Charlotte, N.C., police when he approached officers for help after his car hit a tree. The incident was prompted by a woman who called 911 and told dispatchers a man was trying to break into her home because he had been knocking on her door repeatedly. It was Ferrell, seeking help after crawling out of the back window of his car following a serious accident.
When police got to the scene, they claim a man matching the caller’s description ran toward them—so Officer Kerrick opened fire, hitting Ferrell 10 times. Police said they tried to stop Ferrell with a Taser, but he kept coming at them.
An attorney for the Ferrell family told NBC Charlotte they were shocked by the news.
“I would describe it as suffocating,” the attorney said. “How do you describe that to a mom? This man emptied a clip into her son and now I have to tell her there’s no indictment. If the jury had seen that dash-cam video not only would there have been an indictment for manslaughter, but likely for a greater charge.”
Local leaders are outraged by the jury’s move.
“We have to stand up and fight this kind of evil,” said Kojo Nantambu, Charlotte NAACP president. “For a jury to say that they can’t find any reason to indict him, it’s despicable, it’s almost inhumane.”
The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Ferrell’s family is still pending.