Police officer charged with manslaughter in N. Carolina shooting

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DURHAM, N.C. -- After wrecking his car early Saturday, Jonathan A. Ferrell knocked on a door in a Charlotte neighborhood. He was apparently seeking help, according to Charlotte police.

But the early-morning knock frightened the woman who answered the door. She called 911, police responded, and Mr. Ferrell was shot 10 times and killed.

Police said initially that Officer Randall Kerrick was justified in shooting Mr. Ferrell, who police said "ran," "charged" and "advanced" on Officer Kerrick and two other officers. But hours later, police called the shooting "excessive." Officer Kerrick, 27, has been charged with voluntary manslaughter.

Mr. Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M University football player, was unarmed. The shooting of a young black man by a white police officer has raised questions about the police response.

"This is an all-American young man who survived a horrific accident. He's crying for help and is showered with bullets," the Ferrell family lawyer, Christopher Chestnut, told CNN on Monday. Mr. Chestnut called the shooting "unwarranted, irrational and inhumane."

Police said Mr. Ferrell crashed his car in the woods, climbed out and walked about a half-mile to a house about 2:30 a.m. Saturday. He began "banging on the door viciously," Chief Rodney Monroe of Charlotte-Mecklenberg police told reporters before the officer was charged.

"It was quite possible he was seeking assistance based on his accident," Chief Monroe said.

The woman who answered the knock thought she was about to be robbed and called 911, police said. Mr. Ferrell remained outside and "continued to attempt to gain the attention of the homeowner," a police statement said.

Chief Monroe said Mr. Ferrell did not threaten the woman.

"The evidence revealed that Mr. Ferrell did advance on Officer Kerrick and the investigation showed that the subsequent shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive," police said over the weekend. "Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during the encounter."

Two other officers on the scene did not fire their weapons. Officer Thornell Little attempted to subdue Mr. Ferrell with a Taser before 12 shots were fired, 10 of which struck Mr. Ferrell, police said.

All three officers were put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, police said.

Officer Kerrick, who joined the force in April 2011, was released late Saturday after posting $50,000 bail. Under North Carolina law, voluntary manslaughter involves killing without malice while using "excessive force."

Mr. Ferrell's mother, Georgia Ferrell, described her son as "a very happy, outgoing person." She told CNN he called her every day before leaving for work.

Mr. Ferrell recently moved to Charlotte from Florida and worked two jobs, at a Best Buy and a local department store. He had no criminal record.

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