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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.

Medical Examiner: Ferrell's Gunshot Wounds Would've Quickly Incapacitated

Davie Hinshaw
Charlotte Observer

A forensics expert who performed the autopsy on Jonathan Ferrell dominated testimony Thursday in the Randall Kerrick trial. Ferrell was shot and killed two years ago by former CMPD officer Kerrick. He was unarmed at the time.

Thomas Owens, Director of Mecklenburg Medical Examiner's Office, told the court that nine of Kerrick’s bullets hit Ferrell in his neck, chest and stomach areas and one in his left arm. He said the cause of death was the multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. Owens vividly described each wound and said four of the bullets hit or grazed Ferrell’s heart, the main blood vessel to his lungs, aorta and liver, which would have caused him to bleed out quickly.

The defense wanted to know if Ferrell could have still advanced on officers. Owens says with the type of wounds Ferrell had, “The person is not going to die instantaneously, or necessarily drop to the ground instantaneously. It’s not possible that even with one of those wounds, let alone the wounds that are lethal, that he would have been conscious and fighting for more than 60 seconds.”

Both the defense and prosecution pushed Owens to lay out the trajectory of the bullets and the positions of Kerrick and Ferrell during the shooting. But Owens declined.

“I was not at the scene and I did not see the video,” Owens said. “I don’t know anything about their positioning to one another other than I can say they were facing each other during the shots, all of them come to the front to the back.”

Credit Todd Sumlin / Charlotte Observer
State prosecutor Adren Harris (middle) helps to hold up a door taken from the home of the woman who called 9-1-1 when Jonathan Ferrell knocked on her door after being in an accident. Crime scene investigator Rachel Clark is on the right.

Owens added that Ferrell did not have any signs of a concussion but there were scratches and cuts on his forehead and scrapes on his wrist and forearm. He told prosecutors those abrasions could have come from the accident. That might explain why blood was found on the front screen and storm doors of the homeowner, who called 9-1-1 reporting a burglary, when Ferrell knocked on her door after being in a car accident nearby. Those doors were entered into court as evidence today. An investigator told the court that there were small dents on the bottom of one door but that the locks and the door itself were fully operational.