The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of a black man in September 2013 broke from policy, a police captain testified on Tuesday.
Capt. Mike Campagna said that the shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed, former college football player was not consistent with law enforcement training and department policy.
Captain Campagna testified during the trial of Officer Randall Kerrick, a white officer accused in killing Mr. Ferrell, a 24-year-old black man, after he wrecked his car and knocked on the door of a house, apparently seeking help.
According to The Charlotte Observer:
Campagna said Kerrick should have holstered his weapon because he was faced with “active aggression” – not “aggravated active aggression.” That would have freed both of Kerrick’s hands to get Ferrell under control and allow Kerrick to use his baton, pepper spray or Taser instead.
Officers are taught to create distance between themselves and a person, Campagna said. 'If someone is running straight at you ... we tell officers to make a 90-degree turn, left or right, to get off the train tracks is the term we use.'
The jury began hearing testimony last week and will decide whether Kerrick used excessive force when he fired 12 shots – eight of them at Ferrel’s fallen body – or whether he was justified because he thought Ferrell posed a deadly threat.
Ferrell wrecked his fiancee’s car on his way home after an outing with friends and sought help at a house in a neighborhood east of Charlotte. The homeowner, afraid someone was trying to break in, called 911. Kerrick and two other officers responded, and the deadly confrontation ensued.
Following the shooting, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released a statement calling the shooting unlawful. "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 in a statement the day of the shooting. "Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter."
This trial is happening at a time when several high-profile cases involving police-related deaths have sparked protests and debate nationwide about law enforcement and race relations. In Ferguson, Mo., protesters are continuing with the commemoration of the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death who was fatally shot by officer Darren Wilson.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.