(Photo: Reuters /HANDOUT /LANDOV)
A grand jury indicted former Charlotte Police Officer Randall Kerrick on a charge of voluntary manslaughter Monday in the September shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell, the unarmed former Florida A&M football player whose death has attracted national attention.
The move comes less than a week after the grand jury declined to indict Kerrick last week, but a judge ruled the North Carolina Attorney General's office could resubmit the case Monday morning. Kerrick's attorneys filed a motion to block the judge's decision. The new set of jurors heard statements from the state Bureau of Investigation and the police department.
The family and attorney of Ferrell felt relief after being "devastated" with the grand jury's previous decision. "We will persevere in our quest for justice for not just Jonathan, but all law abiding citizens. After all, what happened to him that night could happen to any of us," the family said in statement.
"We are grateful that the Grand Jury has carefully considered the evidence against Randall Kerrick and returned an indictment for the crime of voluntary manslaughter. Shooting an unarmed man 10 times can never be justified under these circumstances," the family's statement said.
The case has received national attention with many civil rights leaders, clergy and elected officials complaining about the fact that no action was taken by the grand jury last week. In Charlotte, many activists and ministers gathered for a protest in front of the courthouse on Monday, just hours before the indictment was leveled against Kerrick.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said the Rev. Donnie Garris, the pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, speaking with BET.com.
“Many people in our community felt that there had been an injustice in the fact that there had been no indictment,” said Garris, who participated in Monday’s demonstration.
“There was a life taken, the life of a Black man. And the man was shot at 12 times and hit 10 times. At least now there is a sense that things are being corrected.”
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department supported the charge against Kerrick, saying his actions were "excessive."
Ferrell's family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit within the last month. They said that the results of Ferrell’s autopsy indicated that there was a downward trajectory by most of the 10 bullets, suggesting the former Florida A&M University football player was on his knees or on the ground when the shots were fired.
Earlier this month, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the North Carolina police officer who shot him. The city of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and the city's police department are also being sued, according to a court document.
Officer Kerrick opened fire on the 24-year-old, an African-American, who was struck 10 times by bullets and died at the scene. Police say Ferrell, who was unarmed, ran toward them when they arrived.
The former FAMU football player was knocking on doors of the upscale Bradfield Farms community near Charlotte and seeking help after his car crashed. One frantic homeowner who thought Ferrell was a threat had called 911.
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