Around 2:30 AM Saturday, 24 year old Jonathan Ferrell approached the nearest house and started knocking on the door “viciously”. Ferrell had wrecked approximately .5 miles down the road and stopped at the nearest house to ask for help. The woman at home approached the door, expecting her husband to be returning home from work. When she saw Ferrell, the woman panicked and called police.
When the police arrived on the scene, Ferrell ran toward them, presumably to tell them what had happened. The police officers told Ferrell to stop, and when he did not, one officer fired a taser toward Ferrell and missed. Cue Randall Kerrick. Upon his fellow officer’s failure to bring down the suspect, police officer Randall Kerrick decided now would be a good time to become a hero and fire 12 bullets at Ferrell – 10 of which struck home. Ferrell was pronounced dead at the scene.
It took a total of 19 hours for police to investigate and hand down a sentence. Kerrick has been charged with voluntary manslaughter. Lance LaRusso, a current attorney and former police officer, says that the quick turnaround for the sentencing of a police officer is unusual: “There are a couple of reasons why police take their time. First of all, it takes time to develop things like the toxicology report to determine what happened. You have to wait until daylight to reconstruct the crime scene. You have to interview all the people involved. And the officer is given the opportunity to decompress before making a statement.”
However, Charlotte police say that there is good reason for the quick sentencing: “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.” The Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department also released a statement in which they stated “The shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive. Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”
Despite their apparent cooperation and expediency in regards to giving Kerrick his just due, the NAACP and Ferrell’s attorney, Chris Chestnut, believe that the only reason for such diligence is due to the recent events surrounding Trayvon Martin: “Trayvon Martin was a recipe for what not to do,” stated Chestnut.
Chestnut and the NAACP also believe that the events transpired because of the inherent racism which still exists in the United States.”Any day in this country, an African-American man can be killed for no reason by the people who are supposed to be protecting him. That’s not an anomaly in this country. They’re never given the benefit of the doubt, and that has to change,” stated the Charlotte chapter of the NAACP. Chestnut also released his own statement concerning the issue of race in this case: “The officer is white, Mr. Ferrell is black. This might be more of a reflection of where we are as a country.”
Racism has seemed to be a hot-button issue this year, which is ironic considering this is the 50th anniversary of MLK Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. First, we had the issue concerning Trayvon Martin. We then had the issue in which Riley Cooper made some racist statements at a concert. This weekend, we had the controversy surrounding Miss America being of Indian descent. And now this atrocity. Now seems to be the time for us to all sit down and have a national discussion concerning race, but America still seems to believe that race isn’t an issue. However, we all know that the only colorblind person is Stephen Colbert.
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