Never Trust the Media's Reporting Of "Excessive Force" Against Unarmed Suspects Ever Again

Jonathan Ferrell could have easily been billed as “North Carolina’s Michael Brown,” and now that the trial of the man who shot him is reaching its conclusion, that comparison seems more apt than ever.

24-year-old Ferrell, a former college football player, wrecked his car in the early morning of September 24, 2013. He walked to a nearby home and knocked on the door, looking for help. The woman inside called 911, claiming that Ferrell was trying to break into the home. Forensic evidence collected from the scene later does not support her claim. There were no signs of attempted forced entry. Put bluntly, she over-reacted.

Three Charlotte police officers intially responded to the 911 call, and one of them opened fire on the unarmed Ferrell. Officer Randall Kerrick fired 12 shots at Ferrell, ten of which struck the 24-year-old, killing him.

It seemed like a clear-cut case of excessive force the way the media reported the story from the very beginning. When Officer Randall Kerrick was indicted for voluntary manslaughter, it seemed like there would be an open-and-shut case against him.

Like the cases of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, however, the facts revealed in the investigation into Ferrell’s death that have been revealed at Kerrick’s trail have undercut the media’s claim of excessive force against an “unarmed” man, yet again.

Here is the full and unedited dashcam video  released by the Charlotte Police Department that captured the event, which is just over 36 minutes long.

The first ten minutes captures high-speed driving as officer Adam Neil raced to the scene. The action begins as the three officers turn into the neighborhood at about 9:50. Wearing a green shirt, we first see Ferrell walking on the sidewalk at 10:03. He walks towards the arriving police cars, and then without apparent warning, begins charging towards an officer who just starts to step into camera view at 10:10.

By 10:11, both the retreating officer (later identified as Kerrick) and the charging Ferrell are out of camera view.

At that moment, you hear an officer yell “Get on the ground!” three times, and another officer begin to yell, “Stop, stop!” Kerrick then opens fire, and you hear a measured cadence of 12 shots begin at 10:14 as Kerrick attempts to shoot the attacking Ferrell off of him. By 10:21, the shooting is over. A “shots fired” call is immediately reported in the seconds following the shots, and officers confirmed to dispatchers that the suspect was hit and that EMS was needed before another minute expired. The rest of the video is primarily useful only for the audio of the interaction of officers as they attempt to start processing the scene.

Kerrick opened fire at position “D” and fires his final shots with Ferrell on top of him at position “E.”
(Charlotte Observer)

Another, lower-quality version of the video shows the just the seconds surrounding Ferrell’s charge.

The video evidence is a far cry from the initial reporting on the story which suggested that Officer Kerrick shot at a wounded wreck survivor without provocation.

Testimony from an police use of force training expert strongly suggests that Kerrick was lawfully responding to a deadly force threat after another officer’s taser failed to stop the charging Ferrell.

Defense attorneys for 29-year-old Randall Kerrick rested on 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 14 September 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.

What was that again?

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.

Last week a Charlotte Police captain stated that the shooting violated department policy because non-lethal force should have been used first. Non-lethal force was attempted first, as Officer Thornell Little fired his Taser at Ferrell just before Ferrell charged Kerrick. Little’s Taser had no effect on Ferrell.

Kerrick’s case will soon go to a jury, but the evidence provided by forensics, the video, and the expert testimony of NCJA use of force expert Dave Cloutier strongly suggest that there isn’t enough evidence to convict Kerrick of a crime. One might be tempted to argue that like the trial of George Zimmerman, the evidence in this case all but exonerates Officer Kerrick’s decision to fire his weapon against the charging Ferrell. Kerrick reasonably believed that Ferrell might be going for the officer’s weapon, as officer Darren Wilson did when he was forced to shoot strong-arm robbery suspect Michael Brown when Brown charged him.

Time and again, the mainstream media has inflamed the public in order to sell advertising by insisting that unarmed men shot and killed in self-defense were the victims of racism and over-reaction.

The reality of the matter is that just because someone is unarmed it doesn’t mean they are not a deadly force threat.

Trayvon Martin, the drug-abusing, amateur street fighter, was clearly a mortal threat to George Zimmerman as he attempted to pound the latter’s head on a concrete sidewalk after sucker punching Zimmerman for allegedly being a “creepy ass cracker.”

Michael Brown, a strong-armed robbery suspect the size of an NFL lineman, attacked officer Wilson in his vehicle and attempted to take Wilson’s gun, then was shot as the two men struggled over control of the weapon. Brown was shot again and killed seconds later as he charged at Wilson a second time, presumably in a second attempt to take Wilson’s gun. The “hands up, don’t shoot” claim that was uncritically parroted by the media—after being manufactured by a Brown friend with a criminal record—was an abject lie.

Kerrick’s fear that a powerful charging Ferrell might attempt to take his weapon after officer Little’s taser failed to have any effect on him seems reasonable now that the facts are known.

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How many times are the American people going to allow the mainstream media to sell them the lie that many “unarmed” attackers aren’t a lethal force threat?

Young street fighters like Trayvon Martin, college athletes like Jonathan Ferrell, and physically massive suspects like Michael Brown can kill people with their bare hands, and they do with stunning regularity. In 2009, 817 people were beaten or stomped to death, in 2010, there were 769 killed by fists and feet. In 2011, there were 751. In 2012, 707. In 2013, 687 people were murdered by “unarmed” criminals who punched or kicked people to death. Roughly more 200 people are strangled to death every year by “unarmed”suspects.

Statistically speaking, Americans are more than twice as likely to be beaten or stomped to death than shot with any sort of rifle, including the AR-15s and the AKMs that the media constantly attempts to vilify as “assault weapons.”

I, for one, won’t allow myself to be fooled against by a dishonest, ratings-hungry mainstream media.

Will you?