SPECIAL TO THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
Randall Kerrick, a white officer in Mecklenburg County, Charlotte NC, shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed black male college student. Kerrick Shot Ferrell ten times. While he claims he was under duress, he never used any other form of reasonable force such as pepper spray, his baton or taser, to diffuse the allegedly tense situation, nor did any of the other officers on the scene. Instead he unloaded his weapon on Ferrell, hitting him with ten of the shots that he fired from his gun. The city of Charlotte settled with the family for wrongful death. Leading police officials testified that Kerrick violated police department policies and the authorities charged the officer with involuntary manslaughter.
The case went to trial and the jury was hung with a vote of 8 to 4. They were unable to pronounce a verdict. The charges against Kerrick were dismissed and Attorney General Roy Cooper has refused to retry the case stating that, “his prosecutors believe unanimously that a retrial will not yield a different result.” Cooper further stated that, “the jury could not reach a unanimous decision and he says we must listen to what the jury said.” In essence, the jury has spoken.
We believe the decision not to retry the case is unconscionable. The loss of human life and the heartbreak of a family require a more just and wise response from our elected leaders. To say that a hung jury has spoken is simply wrong and Attorney General ought to know and do better.
In the state of North Carolina where African Americans have a long history of being wrongfully convicted of murder and other crimes, we now see a case of the same legal system refusing to properly try an officer of the law for killing a black college student. This is a far cry from justice.
In light of this history, certain questions must be raised—but the most important one is, what if Jonathan Ferrell had been your own unarmed college son, Mr. Cooper? Would you be satisfied with a hung jury for the life of your unarmed son shot ten times at the hands of a sworn officer of the law?
The callous and arrogant deafness of Attorney General Cooper’s remarks is deeply disappointing. His decision to give up on the pursuit of justice in this tragic case, however, betrays the cause of justice and the call of his duty to uphold it.
Attorney General Cooper, we call for you to reconsider and retry this case for the sake of this family and this community, and in the name of justice.