Trial of Charlotte police officer nearing end

Charged in death of unarmed black man

Mitch Weiss - Associated Press

CHARLOTTE — After two weeks of testimony, a jury will hear closing arguments today in the case of a white Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of an unarmed black man.

Defense attorneys for 29-year-old Randall Kerrick rested Monday afternoon — but not before putting several people on the witness stand. They included a police training expert who said Kerrick was justified in using deadly force when he shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell while responding to a breaking-and-entering call.

Dave Cloutier said Kerrick’s decision to shoot Ferrell on Sept. 14, 2013, was consistent with the department’s training.

Cloutier, who has served as an instructor at the North Carolina Justice Academy, said Kerrick was responding to a potentially dangerous 911 call — a report of a man breaking into a woman’s house.

One of Kerrick’s attorneys asked Cloutier if that type of call “would raise an officer’s awareness?”

Cloutier said yes, adding that once Ferrell “began running toward Officer Kerrick, it would aggravate the situation.” He said based on all the evidence he examined, the shooting was justified.

Police Capt. Mike Campagna testified last week the shooting violated department policy. He said nonlethal force should have been used to subdue Ferrell after he wrecked his car and knocked on the door of a house apparently seeking help. The woman in the house called police.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will go over the evidence one last time, before jurors begin deliberating. Kerrick faces up to 11 years in prison if convicted.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police scientist Eve Rossi was the final witness. She testified that Kerrick’s DNA was found under the fingernails of Ferrell’s left hand and that Ferrell’s DNA was discovered on Kerrick’s handgun.

Kerrick’s attorneys have argued that Ferrell was moving quickly in the officer’s direction. They say Kerrick opened fire because he feared that Ferrell was going to attack him and take his gun.

Prosecutor Adren Harris noted that Ferrell, a former Florida A&M football player, was on the ground, bleeding. He asked Rossi if DNA could have been transferred from Ferrell if Ferrell lifted his arm and touched the gun as he was dying.

The defense lawyers objected, but Harris later asked: “DNA doesn’t tell us how it happened?”

Rossi responded, “Yes.”

Earlier, the defense team resumed playing a videotaped interview with one of the three officers on the scene of the fatal confrontation.

Officer Adam Neal had testified earlier in the trial, but the attorneys ran into difficulties with the video late Friday, leading Judge Richard Ervin to call a recess until Monday.

Neal testified he never considered pulling a weapon that night and instead viewed the situation as one that would require physical force to restrain the subject. Neal also testified that he did not see Kerrick until he already had fired several shots and was lying in a ditch with Ferrell at his feet.

On the video, Neal said when he arrived at the scene, Ferrell was already advancing toward officers. At that point, Neal said he thought the encounter was “going to be tough.”

Another officer, Jeremiah Dossett, testified that after the shooting, he took a police report from Kerrick who said he was assaulted by Ferrell.

Charged in death of unarmed black man

Mitch Weiss

Associated Press

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