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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.

Kerrick's Defense Team Speaks Out

Davie Hinshaw
Charlotte Observer

A lot of voices were heard last Friday after a mistrial was declared in the Randall Kerrick trial because of a hung jury. One faction not heard from is Kerrick’s defense attorneys. That changed Wednesday when Kerrick’s defense team held a press conference to defend and clarify their strategy during the trial.

There have been accusations against Kerrick’s attorneys of trying to malign Jonathan Ferrell’s character during the trial. The defense repeatedly referred to the beer Ferrell had and the marijuana he smoked the night he was killed.  Defense attorney Michael Greene says those accusations are off base.

“We weren’t villainizing Jonathan Ferrell,” Greene said. “We were simply saying what happened. We never suggested anything other than what he did.”

That was basically true until closing arguments when Kerrick’s other defense attorney, George Laughrun, referred to Ferrell as a burglar, when he banged on a homeowner’s door after being in an accident.

Ferrell is the 24-year-old African-American man fatally shot by Kerrick two years ago.

After the mistrial was declared, protesters blocked streets and demonstrated at several locations that night, calling for justice. Greene praised CMPD for how officers handled the protests. As for the message of the protesters, Greene said, “I keep hearing no justice no peace, but justice is not a result, a guilty verdict, everybody cheer and the cop goes to jail, justice is a process. Black, white and Hispanic on the jury, 8-4 said not guilty. Just because it’s not the result you wanted does not mean it is not justice.”

The defense attorneys criticized former CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe for suspending Kerrick and charging him with voluntary manslaughter the day of the shooting. They said he gave the public a distorted account of the shooting. Greene says Kerrick was glad to get a chance to take the stand and they never considered not letting him.

“He wanted to tell the citizens and the jury what happened that night. For two years he had to sit silent while he heard civil attorneys, news reporters, people in the community, his own family (give their accounts). This was his time to tell his story,” Greene said.

The defense attorneys also addressed comments by Ferrell’s family. The family accused Kerrick of having no remorse. They pointed out that he’s never called them. Kerrick’s attorneys say that’s because he was advised not to contact the Ferrell family. They said that saying he’s sorry could be used against him at trial as an admission of guilt.

It’s up to Attorney General Roy Cooper to decide whether to retry the case. As for Kerrick, he’s on unpaid leave and working odd jobs to make a living. 

Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.