Let me check my watch. What time is it? Is it 1963? Maybe it’s… 1973? In these long, bygone eras, a black man could not walk in just any old neighborhood and knock on any old door. There were rules. These rules were unwritten but were, nonetheless, enforced. If you were a black man walking in the wrong neighborhood, you were assumed to be a burglar. It was okay, even expected in some places, for the police to come, question you, arrest you and take you away. I guess one of my big problems is that I’ve been reading The New Jim Crow. Michelle Alexander clearly illustrates how a new system was developed during the Civil Rights movement which specifically targets people of color and locks them up for years at a time. Jonathan Ferrell was a young black male who apparently wrecked his car. This Florida A&M University student reportedly crashed and looked for help.
In this society, you can’t crash and crawl out of your car in a daze and you can NOT go bang on doors. You can’t do that. In our society, we are completely inundated and bombarded with images of violence. Therefore, the homeowners didn’t think that Jonathan Ferrell was looking for help. Instead, they pushed their alarm panic button. This summoned the police. Now, you know where this goes from here. If somebody had called an ambulance, I believe that Jonathan Ferrell might be alive today. Instead, the police were called. Jonathan Ferrell is now dead.
Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) in North Carolina is facing charges of voluntary manslaughter after fatally shooting Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M football player who had apparently been seeking help after surviving a major car crash early Saturday morning.
CMPD officials called the shooting “excessive.” “Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter,” said CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe in a statement. “It’s with heavy hearts and significant regrets it’s come to this… Our hearts go out to the Ferrell family and many members of the CMPD family. This is never something easy.”
The Charlotte Observer reports that the car crash was so severe that Ferrell likely had to “pull himself out” of the wreckage. He then walked to the nearest house, about a half mile away, to seek assistance. But the local resident whose home Ferrell arrived at was frightened that he was attempting to burglarize her after not recognizing him.
The resident then made a 911 call and three officers arrived at the scene. According to police accounts, Ferrell, who is African-American, acted “aggressively” and charged towards the officers. Officer Thornell Little of the Hickory Grove division of the CMPD responded with an unsuccessful attempt to fire his Taser at Ferrell. Police say that when Ferrell continued to charge toward the police, 27-year-old officer Randall Kerrick discharged his weapon several times, eventually killing Ferrell.