Video in police shooting yet to be released

Oct. 22, 2013 @ 09:36 PM

CHARLOTTE — The fiancee of an unarmed man who was fatally shot by a Charlotte police officer said Tuesday the police chief is not keeping his promise to release video of the shooting.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the September death of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell, a former Florida A&M football player.

Ferrell's fiancee, Cache Heidel, said Police Chief Rodney Monroe promised to release dashboard video of the shooting.

Following the shooting, Heidel and family members, along with Ferrell family attorney Chris Chestnut met with Monroe to discuss the case.

Heidel and other family members later watched the 15-second tape, and she said it showed the shooting was "unjustified."

Chestnut agreed.

""The public needs to see it," Chestnut said at a news conference with Heidel. "There have been some statements to the press alleging that Jonathan may have assaulted the officer. And that is totally inconsistent with what we saw on the video."

Police spokesman Robert Tufano said the department can't release it because it's part of an "open and pending criminal case."

The police released the 911 call, but the names were redacted, he said.

This is the latest development in the racially charged case in North Carolina's largest city. Kerrick, 27, is white; Ferrell is black.

Civil rights leaders have praised the police for quickly filing charges, and have questioned whether race played a role in the shooting.

But police groups have called the department's move a rush to judgment. They say most departments, including Charlotte, usually take weeks — sometimes months — to complete an investigation of a police shooting, and then decide whether to file charges.

The North Carolina attorney general's office is handling the case.

Ferrell's encounter with police was set in motion at 2:30 a.m. Sept. 14. He had just dropped a friend off, when his car ran off the entrance road to a suburban neighborhood about 15 miles from downtown Charlotte.

After crashing his car into trees, Ferrell kicked out the back window and headed up a hill to the first cluster of houses he could see.

Police said Ferrell knocked on a door seeking help. The woman inside called 911, thinking he was trying to break into her home.

Kerrick and two other officers responded to the call. They found Ferrell on a road that leads only to the neighborhood's pool. Ferrell ran toward the officers, who tried to stop him with a Taser. Police said he continued to run toward them and Kerrick fired 12 shots, hitting Ferrell with all but two.

Monroe has said that while Ferrell did advance on Kerrick, the shooting was excessive. Monroe said the department's investigation showed the officer didn't have a lawful right to discharge his weapon.

Kerrick's attorneys said the shooting was justified because Ferrell didn't obey verbal commands to stop.

After being cooperative at first, Chestnut said police are now putting on a subtle campaign to make Ferrell look like he did something wrong.

"Frankly the police department is suddenly putting Jonathan Ferrell on trial," Chestnut said. "There's an undercurrent here: Where was he earlier that night? Was he intoxicated? Was he inebriated? What was he under the influence of? All of these things are totally irrelevant to the fact that Officer Kerrick decided to shoot Jonathan Ferrell."

Heidel said she wanted the public to know that Ferrell was a kind, loving man.

The couple, who had been together eight years, moved to Charlotte about a year ago when she took a new job. Ferrell was attending Johnson C. Smith University, while working two jobs. She said he wanted to be an automotive engineer. He had no criminal record.

Heidel said they were "high school sweethearts."

She remembered her last conversation with him. They had talked about him "hurrying up to finish off school" so they could get married. Before she left for her job, she turned to him and said "Have a good day."

She never saw him alive again.

"It's still pretty bad. I still cry all the time," she said.