Charlotte, NC -- In September of 2013, officer Randall Kerrick shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed 24-year-old ex-Florida A&M football player. According to the lawsuit, Ferrell was trying to get assistance by knocking on doors in a neighborhood when police responded to a 9-1-1 call made by a woman behind one of the doors.
After no answer, Ferrell moved on.
Kerrick and two other officers arrived on the scene about 11 minutes after the 911 call, but Kerrick didn't speak with the woman, the lawsuit says. He instead tracked down Ferrell, who "never engages in any conduct which can be objectively reasonably interpreted as aggravated active aggression," according to the lawsuit.
Police said in a statement on September 14, the day of the shooting that, "Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter."
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has called the shooting unlawful.
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Since the shooting, the city of Charlotte has shelled out $21,000 in tax-payer dollars in an effort to defend Kerrick. However, as of mid-August, they came to their senses and decided to stop paying, according to WSCO Local News.
The city is citing a policy from 1977 which states that they do not have to pay for his legal services because Officer Kerrick has been charged with a crime.
The NC Fraternal Order of Police stands behind Kerrick and says it's never heard of a city doing this before.
The Free Thought Project encourages this type of action. The act of deferment of liability is a function solely reserved for the state and creates an incentive to act in an unethical manner. The negative consequences of this officer’s incompetence was being passed on to people who did not commit a crime. In what world is that okay?
Every time a victim of police brutality is awarded monetary damages, it is the innocent tax payers who are held responsible, not the individual police officer.
Some municipalities are considering common sense actions that would require police to keep their own personal liability insurance. This would effectively get rid of problem officers who would either stop being a problem, or become uninsurable, thereby becoming unemployable.
Seeing cities step up to the plate and refuse to use tax-payer dollars to defend the criminal actions of its employees, is quite heartening. Hopefully we see the common sense in Charlotte spread to other cities across America; after all, nothing discourages negligence and abuse like experiencing the negative consequences of those actions personally.