Police Fatally Shoot Unarmed Former Football Player Who May Have Been Seeking Help After A Car Crash

Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) in North Carolina is facing charges of voluntary manslaughter after fatally shooting Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M football player who had apparently been seeking help after surviving a major car crash early Saturday morning.

CMPD officials called the shooting “excessive.” “Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter,” said CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe in a statement. “It’s with heavy hearts and significant regrets it’s come to this… Our hearts go out to the Ferrell family and many members of the CMPD family. This is never something easy.”

The Charlotte Observer reports that the car crash was so severe that Ferrell likely had to “pull himself out” of the wreckage. He then walked to the nearest house, about a half mile away, to seek assistance. But the local resident whose home Ferrell arrived at was frightened that he was attempting to burglarize her after not recognizing him.

The resident then made a 911 call and three officers arrived at the scene. According to police accounts, Ferrell, who is African-American, acted “aggressively” and charged towards the officers. Officer Thornell Little of the Hickory Grove division of the CMPD responded with an unsuccessful attempt to fire his Taser at Ferrell. Police say that when Ferrell continued to charge toward the police, 27-year-old officer Randall Kerrick discharged his weapon several times, eventually killing Ferrell.

Monroe said that he did not believe Ferrell had threatened the woman who placed the 911 call, and that Kerrick’s use of excess force was unwarranted, according to the Charlotte Observer. No signs of alcohol were found at the scene of the wreckage, although officials said an official toxicology report will take weeks.

While the FBI keeps detailed information on the numbers and types of crimes that are committed throughout the United States, there is no comprehensive tracking mechanism for police shootings. FBI spokespeople have said there is no mandate for them to keep such statistics and that it would take an act of Congress in order to establish a database. Congress, so far, has refused to ask for one.

This story is unfortunate, and seems to illustrate 3 things about American society.

#1 Racism has NOT gone by the wayside.

Though it may seem premature to pull the race card here, this is one of those cases (alike in the Trayvon Martins case), where one has to consider the possibility. In a perfect world, the victims race will have had nothing to do with the reaction of the owner of the property, nor the course of action taken by the responding police officer.

But in reality, with the attitudes that tend to prevail in many areas of the southern states, I have to ask myself a question. That is, had the male victim been white, would the property owner have had a different reaction, upon seeing him walking up their drive way? And would the responding police officer have regarded him in the same way (apparently a threat), if he seen a white man approaching him?

#2 Gun culture

Though this case is a police shooting fatality, therefore not officially counted with the rest of the nations shootings, one still has to bring gun culture into the equation. Because, had the property owner owned a weapon of their own, its very likely they could have been the shooter.

If they were spooked enough by the man to call the police, chances are if a weapon was involved, the old adage of “shoot first, ask questions later” could very well, have prevailed.

#3 Fear Culture

Another aspect that affects a lot of people in the US, is the culture of fear. Perpetuated because it helps fuel a healthy amount of consumption, it also has its downsides. Which every once in awhile, culminate, as it seems happened, in this case. When the person was scared of someone walking up the drive.

I mention this, and make the connection here, because I have talked to a few people in these kind of situations (in various facebook forums, usually the pro gun and Christian ones ). People that do not realize it (being in the middle of it), but to my eye, are very few steps from being delusional (if not delusional). These are people, whom I would be afraid to walk in front of there homes in broad daylight, for fear that they would perceive me as a “threat”.

In most cases, these people are also proud owners of one or more guns.

Although its arguably to early to be speculative in this case, one can not help but see the simultaneities with hundreds (thousands?) of past cases, both high profile and not.

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