CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jurors viewed dashboard camera footage and heard the sounds of a white Charlotte police officer shooting an unarmed black man who had been looking for help after a car crash, as the film was shown publicly on Wednesday for the first time at the officer’s voluntary manslaughter trial.
On the September 2013 video, Jonathan Ferrell runs out of the camera’s view just before he is shot and officer Randall Kerrick can’t be seen firing his gun 12 times. But the sound of each shot can be heard, and the voice of someone yelling “Get on the ground!” three times.
Ferrell was hit by 10 bullets as he looked for help after a car crash.
Jurors watched 36 minutes of video. The critical portion lasted only about five seconds.
Ferrell is seen in the headlights of officer Adam Neal’s cruiser as Neal pulls up without using his blue lights or siren. Neal testified that Ferrell was pacing, and Neal saw red laser dots on Ferrell’s chest as another officer aimed his Taser at Ferrell.
As Ferrell runs out of the camera’s view, a voice is heard yelling “Get on the ground!” Four shots are fired, then a pause and eight more shots are heard as someone keeps yelling to for Ferrell to get on the ground. After the final shot, a voice yells “Don’t move!”
The audio recording was captured by Neal’s uniform microphone.
Ferrell’s family had seen the footage as part of a wrongful death lawsuit they settled with the city of Charlotte for $2.25 million. They showed no reaction to it Wednesday.
Dashboard footage from Kerrick’s car and the car of a third officer is also expected to be introduced as evidence.
Prosecutors said Kerrick is guilty because he overreacted when he killed Ferrell. Authorities said the officers did not identify themselves and Neal’s video appears to confirm that.
“I heard nothing,” said Neal, who said his only thought was he had five seconds to get the handcuffs on Ferrell after he was stunned by the Taser, which was fired by the third officer. But the stun gun didn’t appear to have any effect.
Neal testified he had a gun, Taser and a baton but didn’t think about using any of them. He said he planned to stop Ferrell by wrestling with him. “I was thinking fighting versus pulling out anything,” Neal said.
Neal said he heard three distinct groups of shots. He said Ferrell fell on top of Kerrick after the first group of four shots and made a crawling motion across Kerrick’s legs as the officer fired six more times. Ferrell briefly stopped moving, but when he started crawling again, Kerrick fired twice more.
Neal testified he didn’t see Ferrell try to hit Kerrick. In opening statements Monday, Kerrick’s lawyer said Ferrell’s DNA was on the officer’s gun because he tried to grab the weapon as they struggled.
Under cross-examination, a defense attorney had Neal act out what happened as Ferrell fell on Kerrick. Neal said he couldn’t use his gun or Taser at that point because he would have hit Kerrick too. He also agreed that he told investigators that Ferrell looked like he was “amped up” and was in a “zombie state.”
Neal and the third officer didn’t fire and were not charged.
The dashcam video evidence came hours after jurors viewed a photo of Ferrell’s bloody body despite the objections of defense lawyers. The frontal photo of Jonathan Ferrell, who had been handcuffed in a ditch following the shooting, was taken when detectives finally rolled over his body more than three hours after he was declared dead.
Unlike all the other photos introduced so far in the trial, it was not displayed on a large screen in the courtroom.
Kerrick, 28, faces up to 11 years in prison if convicted of voluntary manslaughter. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department hired him in 2011 after he had worked as an animal control officer.
The officers came to the neighborhood after a woman called 911 and reported a man tried to knock down her door. Authorities said that man was Ferrell, looking for help after crashing his car. The 24-year-old former Florida A&M football player was in the neighborhood smoking marijuana at a friend’s house and wasn’t familiar with the area, prosecutors said.
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