Archive for the ‘Police Officer Claims SYGL’ Category

Notice if you will how the newspaper portrays the “victim.” He is clean cut and dressed in you Florida A&M University football uniform. I doubt very much he was dressed as such while involved in what he was doing.
Doug Clark says Charlotte slaying could test stand-your-ground law
Jonathan Ferrell in an undated photo provided by Florida A&M University.

Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2013 5:00 pm
Doug Clark/News & Record of Greensboro

A Charlotte police officer was charged with voluntary manslaughter after shooting an unarmed man 10 times last month.

The killing of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell struck a nerve in Charlotte and across the state. It prompted demonstrations in Greensboro and other cities. One reason was its racial angle: Ferrell was black; the officer, Randall Kerrick, 27, is white.
Whether race had anything to do with what happened outside a frightened woman’s home just before 3 a.m. on Sept. 14 is one unanswered question that will come under heightened scrutiny as events unfold in the months to come.
Although there are stark differences, this could turn out to be North Carolina’s answer to the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case. In Florida, a white community watch volunteer’s killing of an unarmed black teenager provided a high-visibility test of that state’s liberal self-defense laws. The same may be true in North Carolina as the prosecution of Randall Kerrick proceeds.
In contrast to Sanford, Fla., authorities, Charlotte police moved quickly after Ferrell’s death.
“The shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive,” the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said in a statement the next day. “Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”
The incident began with a car accident. Ferrell apparently ran his vehicle off the road, then walked to a nearby house and banged on the front door, likely seeking help. A woman, alone with a small child and believing Ferrell was trying to break in, called 911. She was obviously frightened.
Three police officers arrived a few minutes later. Ferrell walked, then ran, toward them. One fired a Taser at Ferrell, unsuccessfully, before Kerrick began shooting.
A dashboard camera in a police car captured most of what happened.
Police Chief Rodney Monroe quickly concluded that Kerrick was not justified. He said officers are trained to handle such situations without shooting.
But Kerrick is entitled to the same protection under the law that a civilian would get. That means he can defend himself by using North Carolina’s 2011 stand-your-ground law.
One of his lawyers, George Laughrun, implicitly began making that defense last month when he described to reporters what he saw on the dash-cam video — which has not been released to the public.
Ferrell “advanced toward the officers,” Laughrun said. “His hands were not in the air. You see one of his hands partially behind his back, concealed as he … continued to advance. He was given three commands to ‘Get on the ground. Get on the ground.’ He did not. And Officer Kerrick backed up and then felt the need to deploy his service weapon.”
Very dramatic. And very precise. Laughrun was carefully asserting a series of facts and a state of mind. All are critical in establishing a line of defense allowed by law.
This law says “a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat in any place he or she has the lawful right to be if … he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.”
Kerrick’s defense is obvious: to claim he did not know whether Ferrell held a gun or knife in the hand that was “partially behind his back”; and, not knowing, he “reasonably” believed it was necessary to shoot to protect himself from great bodily harm.
Ferrell, who played college football, presumably was big, strong and fast. By running toward the officer and refusing to get down, did he give Kerrick in that instant provocation to fire?
A Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman, but under different circumstances. There was no video. There were no witnesses. Zimmerman had some minor injuries to support his claim that Martin attacked him first.
Kerrick’s defense may depend in part on what jurors see in the video and what his fellow officers say about their perceptions. Did they think Ferrell might have been armed and dangerous?
Yet, ultimately, the law expects a jury to determine what Kerrick reasonably believed.
And what about that racial angle? Did the fact that Ferrell was black make a difference? Did Kerrick see Ferrell as potentially more dangerous because of his race? If so, should a biased perception actually help his defense, or could the prosecution turn it against him?
Perhaps more likely, race had nothing to do with this tragic misjudgment.
At the same time, this case also puts the law on trial. Critics said the legislature set a permissive standard for deadly self-defense. This case may test that contention.
Doug Clark is an editorial writer for the News & Record of Greensboro. . .