A juror in the Randall Kerrick trial demanded to know what Jonathan Ferrell had done to deserve being executed.
The Guardian reports that Moses Wilson, who was a member of the 12-person jury that remained deadlocked, said he never received a satisfactory answer.
“I wrote on the board: ‘What did Jonathan Ferrell do, and I underlined ‘do,’ to warrant death: 10 shots.’ I had done this because there was nothing that I had seen in the weeks preceding that showed me what he had done,” said Wilson. “And I said that if anyone can show me what he did, I might change my vote which is going to be for conviction to acquittal, and every day, that was my challenge.”
Wilson was one of the jurors who voted in favor of convicting the North Carolina police officer who was charged with killing Jonathan Ferrell, a former college football player. Ferrell crashed his car and went to a nearby house to call for help. The frightened homeowner called the police who shot Ferrell dead. After an initial vote which was 7-5, the jury remained deadlocked at 8-4, allowing Kerrick to walk free.
Wilson, a Vietnam veteran and former police officer, said the prosecution did enough to convict Kerrick on manslaughter charges. However, he faulted the defense team for putting Ferrell, the victim, on trial.
“It became not what he did, or what they did to him, but more, what he didn’t do, what he should have known what to do, so that the police would not either beat him silly or shoot him,” Wilson said.
The prosecution based their case on the fact that Officer Kerrick opted to use lethal force to subdue Ferrell. There were two other officers on the scene. One didn’t shoot, the other fired a taser. However, Kerrick opted to fire his weapon 12 times, hitting Ferrell 10 times. Defense attorneys used the familiar “the officer feared for his life,” excuse. They also accused Ferrell of behaving like a zombie and displaying superhuman strength. Officer Adam Neal, said Ferrell “appeared to amped up on the night of his death.”
This is a familiar tactic used by police officers and defense attorneys to justify fatal shootings. Dontre Hamilton, who was shot 14 times, Rodney King and Michael Brown were all said to have displayed superhuman strength before being shot or beaten by police officers.
Police also tried to justify the shooting by releasing an autopsy report that indicated Ferrell had used drugs and alcohol on the night of his death. This is similar to the case of Sandra Bland, the Illinois woman who was arrested in Texas for a minor traffic stop, only to be found dead in her jail cell just three days later. Police later suggested she had consumed marijuana and that was what caused her to take her own life.
Wilson said the night of Ferrell’s shooting contained a of litany of mistakes, poor judgement calls and errors. Unfortunately, Ferrell’s mistake of knocking on a stranger’s door and asking for help turned out to be fatal. But according to Wilson, Kerrick over stepped his boundaries when responding to the situation.
“You are not the judge. You are not the jury,” he told The Guardian. “You’re the person who comes to investigate and decide whether a person should be arrested and sent elsewhere.”
Prosecutor Arden Harris said Kerrick used poor judgment when he opted to shoot Ferrell. He argued Kerrick had a wide range of non-lethal tools he could have used, such as his flashlight, pepper spray and taser, to restrain Ferrell. But he opted to use lethal force.
“He had a litany of options – non-deadly options – at his disposal, and he didn’t use them,” Harris said. “And you know why? Because he panicked. He abandoned his training. He abandoned everything he learned when he fired those shots.”