CMPD officer Randall Kerrick told jurors Thurday afternoon that he feared for his life on the night he shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell.
Kerrick testified for two hours. Under questioning from defense attorney Michael Greene, Kerrick described a situation that he said escalated quickly.
Kerrick was the first officer on the scene of a “priority one” breaking and entering call–that’s CMPD’s highest priority– early on the morning of September 14, 2013. He says he was walking toward the house where the 911 call came from when another officer, Thornell Little, drove up. Kerrick told Little he had heard some loud noises coming from an adjacent street in a wooded area. Little drove down to check it out. Kerrick got back in his car and followed behind.
Officer Little arrived first. Kerrick says when he caught up, Little had already drawn his Taser. Kerrick says that he’d been on several calls with Little, and that this was the first time he’d seen him draw either a Taser or gun.
“The suspect was coming at officer Little at a fast pace, then he began to run. Officer Little discharged his Taser,” Kerrick testified.
Little testified earlier Thursday that he pulled the Taser because Ferrell didn’t respond to his command to stop moving toward him.
Kerrick told jurors he pulled his gun to back up officer Little. He says he was trained to draw his service weapon as backup for a Taser – a key point in the defense’s case.
“After the Taser was deployed, I yelled ‘Stop,’ and the suspect focused on me–he was originally focused on officer Little–then he focused on me, and was only focusing on me.”
Kerrick says Ferrell started moving toward him at a fast pace. Then, Kerrick says Ferrell grabbed at the back of his waistband and started to charge. Greene then asked Kerrick to show jurors this motion.
“I gave loud verbal commands for him to stop and get on the ground as I was backing up, trying to keep distance,” Kerrick testified.
Greene asked why he backpedaled.
“Because I didn’t know if the suspect had a weapon on him, had anything in his hands. I had to keep distance so I could assess the situation,” Kerrick responded.
And throughout Greene emphasized the difference in size between the two men. Ferrell, a former college football player, was taller and heavier than the 5-7 Kerrick.
Kerrick said Ferrell was 3-5 feet away when Ferrell’s hands moved toward his own waistband.
“Was he in arm’s reach of you,” Greene asked?
“Yes sir,” Kerrick responded.
And within arm’s reach of his gun. Kerrick says he feared Ferrell would grab the gun and turn it on him or officer Little. That’s when he fired. Kerrick says he ended up on the ground, with Ferrell climbing up his lower body, reaching for the gun.
“He wouldn’t stop. No matter what I did, he wouldn’t stop. I wasn’t sure how many rounds I had fired. None of them affected him in any way; I didn’t think my gun was working,” Kerrick testified.
Kerrick says at the time, he thought he fired 4 to 6 shots. He actually fired 12. Ten of those bullets hit Jonathan Ferrell.
Kerrick will continue his testimony today.
6 p.m. Monday update
Randall Kerrick was on the witness stand today for about two hours. Under questioning from defense attorney Michael Greene, Kerrick said he was scared for his life when he shot Jonathan Ferrell nearly two years ago.
"I thought I was gonna die," Kerrick testified.
"Why," Greene asked.
"Because nothing I would do would stop him," Kerrick responded.
Kerrick also said he didn't know if Ferrell "had anything in his hands...He just ran through a Taser, which at the time I thought had worked. I thought the Taser had struck, made contact. And I had absolutely no idea if he had a weapon on him or not."
3:40 p.m. Monday Update
Court has recessed for a 10-minute break. Kerrick testified about a conversation he said he had with a sergeant a few years ago. Kerrick said the sergeant told him to "be ready with lethal force" when another officer draws a Taser.
Much of his testimony focused on his police academy training and the commendations he's received.
3:15 p.m. Monday Update
Officer Randall Kerrick is testifying. WFAE's Duncan McFadyen is at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. He will have a report during this evening's All Things Considered
12:04 p.m. Monday Update
Jurors in the trial of CMPD officer Randall Kerrick heard this morning from a fellow officer who was at the scene when Kerrick fatally shot Jonathan Ferrell. Testifying for the defense, officer Thornell Little described what led him to fire a Taser toward Ferrell.
From WFAE’s Duncan McFadyen:
He (Little) says that Ferrell was acting erratic, pacing back and forth, and yelled “shoot me, shoot me” when officer Little pulled out his Taser; On cross-examination, the prosecution tried to poke holes in officer Little’s recollection and Little acknowledged there are a few places where he can’t remember exactly what happened. The prosecution also repeatedly played portions of the dash-cam video from the police cruiser of a third officer on the scene. Prosecutors emphasized that what happened, in officer Little’s recollections, is not visible on the video.