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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.

CMPD Prepares For Kerrick Trial By Building Relationships

The trial of Randall Kerrick, the former CMPD Police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man, begins next week. Police and local community groups have been trying to build relationships hoping to head off any violence. They held one such event Sunday.    

Bishop Phillip Davis of Nations Ford Community Church was one of many speakers at what was dubbed “a unity rally” in Freedom Park. He addressed a small crowd of white and black politicians, activists, law enforcement officers, and members of faith communities.

“We stand on the shoulders of a great, civil rights movement, but underscore the word civil,” said Davis. 

So far that’s been the reaction in Charlotte to the death of Jonathan Ferrell in 2013. But since then police killings of unarmed African American men have sparked violence in cities across the country. 

“Protest if you must, but protest the way Dr. King and others taught us with civil love and civil unity,” continued Davis. 

There was a lot of talk about race, unity, and keeping disagreement civil.  The trial itself only came up a couple times.

“It touches all our hearts to be in unity. But if Jonathan Ferrell doesn’t get justice, it’s going to break a lot of hearts,” says Jibril Hough, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte.

The rally was held by the North Carolina Local Barbers Association and CMPD.  The two have teamed up to hold several forums and informal meetings to get police and people in the neighborhoods they serve talking. 

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said he hopes relationships, not just police presence will deter any violence related to the trial. 

“We’re connected with people who can help us deescalate a situation. We’re getting community leaders who have that credibility already. We’re just going to tap into some of that,” said Putney.

Trial proceedings start next Monday.