In Jonathan Ferrell’s Death, A Mother Seeks to Keep the Faith

In Jonathan Ferrell’s Death, A Mother Seeks to Keep the Faith

Georgia Ferrell, the mother of the former Florida A&M football player killed by a policeman, says her faith is what allows her to go on.

Published January 29, 2014

If there is anything that Georgia Ferrell has remained convinced of in the emotionally wrenching months since her son was shot and killed by a police officer in Charlotte, it was that justice would prevail and, as she put it, everything would be all right.

“I know God can do anything but fail,” she said, in an interview with “I know there will be justice and I know God will take care of everything. I am able to get through this only by faith and by prayer.”

The death of her son four months ago has become a national news story that has galvanized civil rights leaders, clergy and others in a heartbreaking story of a young Black man killed while unarmed.

A police officer shot and killed her son, Jonathan Ferrell, a former Florida A&M football player, after he had run toward them seeking assistance after a car crash. The 24-year-old Black man was fired upon 12 times, with 10 shots hitting and killing him.

The outrage over the incident grew dramatically last week, when a grand jury declined to indict the officer, Randall Kerrick, on manslaughter charges. That led to protests by local activists, religious leaders and students. But this week, a grand jury deliberated again and charged the officer with voluntary manslaughter.

Georgia Ferrell said the world knows her son simply as a former football player at the historically Black college in Florida. They know little, she said, of the tender, deeply religious, family-oriented spirit that her 24-year-old son possessed.

“He was such a loving person,” she said. “He not only loved his family, but he loved the world. He was kind as any one man can be. The young guys would say that he was a little soft. He loved the Lord. He sang in the choir. He did devotionals at church every Sunday as a child.” She spoke with delight of her son’s days at the Mount Pleasant Primitive Baptist Church, where he loved to hear his father sing hymns.

At the time of his death, Jonathan Ferrell was enrolled at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, seeking to complete his degree while working two jobs – one at a men’s clothing outlet and another at an electronics store. He was engaged to a woman who had earned an MBA from Wake Forest University and he was devoted to her and his family.

If nothing else, Georgia Ferrell is a woman of enormous faith. She said she is deeply wounded emotionally by the fact that her son is gone. Yet, she remains unwavering, she said, that they will one day be reunited.

“I know for a fact, not by what anyone told me, but as a fact that I will see my child again,” she said. “I know that because I know how much he loved the Lord. And if I walk in this life in the walk of Jesus, we will be together again.”

Despite what happened to her son, she says she harbors a great deal of compassion toward the family of Officer Kerrick, the man who shot her son, and particularly for the policeman’s mother.

“I feel a great deal of sympathy for them because this could happen to anyone,” she said. With regard to Kerrick’s mother, she added, “That is her son. I know that she is hurting. This family is going through something like we are.”

Of the mother of her son’s killer, she said, “Of course, she can see her child. But she knows he has taken another life. No mother wants that. We as parents want to be proud of our children. We want to see them go on to achieve things we didn’t. I know she’s hurt. Although she hadn’t lost her child, it’s still like she lost a part of him. Her life, too, won’t be the same.”

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Follow Jonathan Hicks on Twitter: @HicksJonathan

(Photo: REUTERS/Chris Keane)

Written by Jonathan P. Hicks


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