Recording in Ferrell shooting: Suspect 'coming at' officer

jmarusak@charlotteobserver.comOctober 25, 2013 

One Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer who witnessed the shooting of Jonathon Ferrell last month told a dispatcher that Ferrell “was coming at” the officer who killed the unarmed man.

Police on Friday released an edited recording of communications between a dispatcher and officers who responded to a report of an attempted break-in on Reedy Creek Road. Another officer said on the recording that “the officer was struck by the subject.”

“Physically hit, not shot,” an officer tells the dispatcher.

At 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 14, Ferrell was shot 10 times by Officer Randall Kerrick during a confrontation in a northeast Charlotte neighborhood, police said. Kerrick was charged 19 hours later with voluntary manslaughter.

The recordings illustrate why Kerrick that night filed a report saying he was assaulted during the shooting. But after police investigators saw video from a dashboard camera, police changed course and charged Kerrick.

The recordings are the second audio release surrounding the case. In September, police released a frightened woman’s 911 call, with her saying a man tried to shove his way into her home and then pounded on her door.

Ferrell’s fiancee, Caché Heidel, earlier this week publicly asked the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department to release the dashboard video since, she said, the 911 audio criminalizes Ferrell. “With the news that they’re trying to say Jon assaulted the officer, you want the facts. And I know Jon wasn’t that type of person.”

Senior Assistant City Attorney Judith Emken has said police will not release the dashboard account because it is evidence in a criminal investigation.

Those who have viewed the dashboard video have offered differing accounts of what they saw.

Lawyers for Kerrick say one of Ferrell’s hands was partially concealed as he advanced. Ferrell’s family lawyer said Ferrell was shot before he had a chance to react to officers’ commands to get on the ground.

Chief Rodney Monroe, who also saw the tapes, said an officer told Ferrell to stop before he was shot and killed, and that a Taser fired by a second officer missed Ferrell.

Monroe also has said that the first shots were fired from a distance of “a couple of feet,” and there was physical contact between Kerrick and Ferrell after the first shots had been fired.

Monroe said in September police were reviewing the evidence to determine if it “was actually an assault, or actually a man dying.”

In the edited audio released Friday, the only information the officers have as they approach the area is that a man had been banging on a door and yelling at a woman inside her house to turn off the home alarm. The dispatcher tells the three officers en route “he kicked through the door,” that a child was inside and that the woman caller “does not know the suspect.”

Chris Chestnut, the Ferrell family’s attorney, called Friday’s release of the tapes “highly suspicious” and “calculated.” Police haven’t released dashboard video, he said. “Yet they parcel out tidbits of information that they selectively edited and that benefit their officer. We want them to release the whole truth.”

CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano said the recordings were edited only to remove information that would identify the 911 caller, her address or any other personal information.

That night, Ferrell, a former Florida A&M football player, was driving a co-worker home, the Ferrell family’s attorney said police have told him. Ferrell’s car went off the road, and Ferrell went to seek help at a home about one-quarter mile away, the attorney said.

Ferrell, a Tallahassee, Fla., native, moved to Charlotte several months ago to be closer to Heidel, his girlfriend since middle school and now a Charlotte accountant. At the time of his death, Ferrell had enrolled in Johnson C. Smith University and was holding down two jobs.

Kerrick, 27, a third-year Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer, has been on leave since the shooting. He responded with two other officers, Thornell Little and Adam Neal.

It is the first time in decades an officer has been charged with killing someone in the line of duty. The department decided Kerrick “did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon,” according to a police statement.

Marusak: 704-987-3670; Twitter: @jmarusak

The Lake Wylie Pilot is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service