Only in America can a black man cheat death by surviving a car wreck only to be shot and killed by a police officer while attempting to seek help after said car wreck. I hope that opening line sounds as absurd to you as the story of the death of Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M football player sounded to me when I read it this morning over at Think Progress. Yes, a Charlotte police officer has killed a black man seeking help after a car crash. And no, the black man killed was not a fugitive from the law as some may naturally assume. Yep, you know how that racial profiling thingy goes — anyone afflicted with melanin shot and killed by the cops were killed with good reason.
For some of you reading this I realize that the following story sounds like some sort of urban legend. But the sad reality is that it isn’t; and, right now as you read this there is a family in Charlotte, North Carolina trying to make sense of this inexplicable incident. An incident which as with encounters with police for people of color may go, seems all too common. But hey, perhaps we should spend our energy focused on George Zimmerman rather than state-sanctioned terrorists to whom we entrust our lives and safety each day. I mean, surely if someone black gets shot and killed by the cops he had it coming, right? You know, even if they might not be wearing a hoodie and toting Skittles and Ice Tea?
Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) in North Carolina is facing charges of voluntary manslaughter after fatally shooting Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M football player who had apparently been seeking help after surviving a major car crash early Saturday morning.
CMPD officials called the shooting “excessive.” “Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter,” said CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe in a statement. “It’s with heavy hearts and significant regrets it’s come to this… Our hearts go out to the Ferrell family and many members of the CMPD family. This is never something easy.”
The Charlotte Observer reports that the car crash was so severe that Ferrell likely had to “pull himself out” of the wreckage. He then walked to the nearest house, about a half mile away, to seek assistance. But the local resident whose home Ferrell arrived at was frightened that he was attempting to burglarize her after not recognizing him.
The resident then made a 911 call and three officers arrived at the scene.According to police accounts, Ferrell, who is African-American, acted “aggressively” and charged towards the officers. Officer Thornell Little of the Hickory Grove division of the CMPD responded with an unsuccessful attempt to fire his Taser at Ferrell. Police say that when Ferrell continued to charge toward the police, 27-year-old officer Randall Kerrick discharged his weapon several times, eventually killing Ferrell.
Monroe said that he did not believe Ferrell had threatened the woman who placed the 911 call, and that Kerrick’s use of excess force was unwarranted, according to the Charlotte Observer. No signs of alcohol were found at the scene of the wreckage, although officials said an official toxicology report will take weeks. (Source: Think Progress)
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That said, let’s not get caught up in the misdirection blame game as it is always easy to do so. Instead, let’s focus squarely on the actions of the police officer in question. Which if you ask me, judging from the fact that he was charged rather promptly acted irresponsibly and excessively. Because as I mentioned before, this outcome is all too common when people of color — and in particular black men — who encounter police officers. So again, while many of you are worried about the whereabouts of George Zimmerman, it might be a better idea to be concerned about “Officer Tackleberry” out there on patrol. Because from where I’m sitting, police shooting black men happens far more frequently than we acknowledge. But hey, don’t take my word for it; yes, I’m just another biased black man caught up in the mix trynna’ make a dollar out of fifteen cents.