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WFAE's coverage of the case of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall Kerrick charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of Jonathan Ferrell. The court case ended in a mistrial.

Charlotte NAACP Holds Vigil For Jonathan Ferrell One Year After His Death

Tasnim Shamma

More than two dozen people attended a prayer vigil for Jonathan Ferrell across the street from police headquarters in uptown Charlotte on Tuesday night.

Ferrell was shot ten times by a Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer last year.

It's been one year since the death of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell by CMPD officer Randall Kerrick. Kerrick fired his gun at Ferrell a dozen times in September 2013 and hit him 10 times. 

Credit Tasnim Shamma
Cece White with her son at the prayer vigil. She says she's sad that Ferrell was shot to death last year, but she's not surprised that it did happen in Charlotte.

The vigil was organized by the local chapter of the NAACP. Five faith leaders offered prayers for Ferrell and his family and participants held up glow sticks in place of candles on a rainy night.

The vigil was held next to a memorial for fallen police officers.  Reverend Kojo Nantambu says the location for the vigil was appropriate.

"Our fallen law enforcement officers represent us and we should honor anyone who works for us and represent us, as long as they protect and defend us," Nantambu says. "But the problem is, too many of those that they kill are never honored. Instead of being honored and memorialized, they are vilified and criminalized. And what happens is that we forget them so soon."

CMPD officer Randall Kerrick was responding to a report of an early morning break-in, but Jonathan Ferrell was seeking help after wrecking his car. His family believes he was racially profiled. Ferrell was black, and Kerrick is white.

During the vigil, community organizer Bree Newsome spoke about how the incident reminded her of the shooting of Michael Brown last month in Ferguson, Missouri.

"Our whole lives are about dodging bars and bullets and even if you make it into college like Jonathan did, you can still end up gunned down by the cops," Newsome says. "Our whole lives are about walking around like this … Hands up! (Don't shoot!) Our whole lives are about walking around like this with our hands up, trying to prove that we're not criminals. Trying to prove that we have a right to live." 

At the vigil, state Representative Rodney Moore said he would be introducing a bill in the General Assembly next year to combat racial profiling. And local activists say they are pushing for more reforms to the Citizens Review Board.

Jibril Hough says Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe met with him and members of the NAACP on Friday.

Credit Tasnim Shamma
Marcelle Vielot, the Charlotte NAACP Youth Works coordinator.

"At least we have a chief here, unlike Ferguson, that's willing to see and recognizes there are problems underneath him. And willing to make changes," Hough says. 

CMPD charged Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter less than 24 hours after the shooting. He was indicted by a Mecklenburg County grand jury in late January.

The criminal case is still in the discovery phase. The civil lawsuit against the city, county and officer Kerrick is on hold until the criminal trial concludes.