City Stops Paying Court Costs For CMPD Officer
If you're a city employee sued by anyone while you're on the job, the city will help pay for your legal costs. That's how it usually works.
But last month, city manager Ron Carlee decided to stop paying attorney fees for Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick.That's because CMPD charged him with a crime: voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell.
Updated 09/24/14: Statement from Officer Kerrick's criminal defense attorneys below.
It's city policy to defend employees if they're sued for what they did on the job. And the city did pay for the civil defense of Randall Kerrick, the officer who shot an unarmed 24-year-old twelve times, hitting him ten times.
By mid-August, the city paid nearly $21,000 for his defense attorney in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Jonathan Ferrell. But City Manager Ron Carlee cites a two-page resolution from 1977 in deciding to stop those payments.
The resolution lists four situations where the city doesn't have to defend an employee in a civil lawsuit: if he or she committed fraud, was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, disobeyed city orders or committed a crime.
In Kerrick's case, because CMPD charged him with a crime, Ron Carlee wrote in a statement that it would be "inconsistent and untenable," to continue to defend him. But, Carlee added that if the charges against him in his criminal case are dropped or if he's found not guilty, the city would have to pick up the tab again for his attorney.
Jonathan Ferrell's family believes Ferrell was racially profiled when Kerrick responded to a report of an early morning break-in last September. Ferrell, who was black, was apparently seeking help after wrecking his car. Officer Kerrick, who is white, shot him ten times. CMPD charged Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter less than 24 hours later.
His criminal defense attorneys George Laughrun and Michael Greene, released this statement on Wednesday:
Officer Randall W. Kerrick swore an oath to serve and protect the citizens of this city. Since joining the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), his service has been steadfast and his service record has been nothing short of impeccable. The city of Charlotte originally agreed to fund Officer Kerrick's civil defense and has done so to date. There has been absolutely no change in circumstances that should have led our City Manager, Ron Carlee, and our City Counsel to this abrupt and politically motivated decision. Although on unpaid leave, Officer Kerrick is still employed by the city of Charlotte. We fully intend to seek legal counsel for Officer Kerrick’s civil defense. Further, once the entire story is revealed in the criminal case, we are confident that justice will prevail and that a jury of his peers will also conclude that on September 14, 2013, Officer Kerrick acted in conformity with the rules and procedures of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department and with North Carolina state law. The shooting of Jonathan Ferrell was tragic, but justified.
The attorney for Kerrick in the civil lawsuit declined comment other than to say options are being explored.