CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An unarmed man shot by police as he sought help after a car crash had moved to North Carolina to be with his fiancee and was working two jobs, his family said Monday.
Family members said at a news conference that Jonathan A. Ferrell, 24, had lived in the Charlotte area for less than a year and was likely unfamiliar with the area he was driving when he crashed early Saturday.
Police were called after the former Florida A&M University football player knocked on the door of a home near the crash. He was hit with a Taser as he approached officers and then shot, resulting in a voluntary manslaughter charge against one of the officers. A first appearance was scheduled for the officer on Tuesday after being postponed by a day.
Ferrell’s mother said she was praying for the officer, Randall Kerrick.
“I truly forgive him. I pray for him. And I pray that he gets off the police force,” Georgia Ferrell said. “You took a piece of my heart that I can never get back.”
Georgia Ferrell and her son Willie traveled to Charlotte from Florida along with their attorney to meet with police officials.
Police determined the shooting was excessive and charged Kerrick on Saturday. A police statement Saturday said the investigation showed “Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”
The deadly encounter unfolded after police said the car Ferrell was driving crashed into trees off a northeast Charlotte road early Saturday. Police Chief Rodney Monroe has said the wreck was so severe that Ferrell would have had to climb out of the back window to escape.
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.
Officers responding to the breaking and entering call found Ferrell nearby. 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.
An attorney for Ferrell’s family, Chris Chestnut, applauded police for charging Kerrick quickly.
“To shoot first and ask questions later is not an appropriate action for a police officer,” Chestnut said at the news conference with the family.
Chestnut also has represented the family of Robert Champion, a FAMU drum major who died during a hazing ritual in November 2011.
Jonathan Ferrell played safety for the FAMU’s football team during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the school said.
Ferrell’s mother and brother didn’t say where he was working at the news conference.
“He taught me to be respectful to my mother, to my family. He was such a great person,” said his brother, Willie.