CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — An unarmed man seeking help after a car crash over the weekend was shot 10 times by the Charlotte police officer who's now charged in his death, investigators said Monday.
The release of the information supporting the voluntary manslaughter charge came at the end of a day that also included the first public remarks by victim Jonathan A. Ferrell's family. A family attorney and representatives of the NAACP questioned whether race played a role in the shooting of the black man by a white officer.
Ferrell's family said the former Florida A&M University football player moved to Charlotte about a year ago to be with his fiancee and was working two jobs. He wanted to go back to school and eventually become an automotive engineer.
"You took a piece of my heart that I can never put back," said Ferrell's mother, Georgia Ferrell, as she clutched a stuffed Winnie the Pooh doll her 24-year-old son loved as a child.
A police news release said Officer Randall Kerrick fired 12 times at Ferrell early Saturday while responding to a breaking and entering call, hitting him 10 times. Kerrick was scheduled for a first court appearance Tuesday on the voluntary manslaughter charge.
NAACP leaders gathered Monday to both praise police for quickly filing charges and to complain about how the shooting didn't surprise them considering portrayals of black men in popular culture and previous instances of racially inflected violence.
Ferrell family attorney Chris Chestnut wondered Monday what role race may have played in Saturday's shooting.
"The officer is white, Mr. Ferrell is black. This might be more of a reflection of where we are as a country," he said.
The encounter was set in motion around 2:30 a.m. Saturday when Ferrell's car ran off the entrance road to a sprawling suburban neighborhood that was carved out of farmland about a decade ago some 15 miles from downtown Charlotte. A sign near the crash site advertises a neighborhood watch meeting in a few days.