An unarmed 24-year-old man was shot by police in North Carolina on Saturday morning after running towards officers after his car had crashed. Jonathan Ferrell had initially ran to the nearest house for help; unfortunately, the homeowner called the police to report what she believed to be a burglar. When the officers arrived, Ferrell ran towards them in an appeal for help, which led to the officers firing on Ferrell as he approached them. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department have charged Officer Randall Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter and the other two officers on the scene have been placed on paid leave.
Though the officers had first attempted to use a stun gun on Ferrell to no avail, to just brazenly shoot at someone smacks of horrific judgment. Do officers not have nonlethal methods to subdue a person they feel is a threat, as a means of neutralizing, not killing a suspicious person?
Officer Randall Kerrick, left; Jonathan Ferrell, right (Image Credits: Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office / Charlotte Observer)
Farrell had not committed a crime, nor was he in the process of doing so. If Ferrell was committing a crime, why would he run towards police rather than flee the scene? Excessive force by police officers is sadly nothing new.
The former college football player had just been involved in a terrible car accident, and authorities say that the car was so damaged that Ferrell most likely had to escape the car via the back window. The intensity of the situation easily explains why Ferrell desperately ran to the first house he saw and then ran towards police; adrenaline like explains why stun guns had no effect. Tragically, Ferrell lost his life as a result.
But what happened Jonathan Ferrell is unfortunately nothing new when it comes to police using excessive force on an unarmed person, and especially those of color. What compounds this tragedy is the fact that Ferrell survived what looks to be a very serious car accident, only to be killed in a case of misjudgment. Police need to be trained to use lethal force only as a last resort to prevent more tragedies like these from shattering more lives.