Jury deadlocked in North Carolina trial of policeman who shot black man
A North Carolina jury told a judge on Friday that it was deadlocked and unable to reach a verdict in the trial of a policeman charged in the death of an unarmed black man.
Randall Kerrick, 29, faces a charge of voluntary manslaughter in the September 2013 death of Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M football player who had wrecked his car on a dark road and was seeking help when he encountered officers. Ferrell ran and Kerrick opened fire at point-blank range and killed him.
Judge Robert Ervin urged the jurors to continue deliberations and ask for any exhibits or trial testimony they might need to reach a verdict.
The jury began deliberating on Tuesday afternoon after two weeks of testimony.
In a note to the judge on Friday the jurors said they had taken three votes so far and were currently deadlocked 8-4, though Ervin did not reveal which way they were leaning.
Kerrick’s case is one of the latest in which a police officer has been accused of using unjustified force against an unarmed black man. The killings have touched off a nationwide debate on race and policing.
If the jury remains deadlocked and a mistrial is declared, Kerrick may be tried again in Superior Court.
Charlotte city officials agreed in May to pay Ferrell’s family $2.25 million in a civil settlement for wrongful death.
After the car wreck, prosecutors say Ferrell walked to the nearby home of Sarah McCartney and pounded on the door seeking help.
McCartney thought Ferrell was trying to break in and called 911.
A dashboard camera video shows Ferrell walking toward police, then running to his left and off screen as Kerrick yells three times, “Get on the ground!”
As the two men fell into a drainage ditch, Kerrick fired 12 shots, 10 of which hit Ferrell.
The case hinges on whether Kerrick used excessive force, or it was reasonable for him to believe Ferrell represented a threat of death or serious injury.
Prosecutors argued that Ferrell made no overt threat to police, and noted that Kerrick fired a second round of shots after Ferrell had fallen at his feet, and then two more after Ferrell’s body moved for a final time.
Defense attorneys said Kerrick had no way of knowing whether Ferrell was armed and that Ferrell tried to take Kerrick’s gun.