By Tom Foreman Jr. (Associated Press)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As prosecutors attempted to discredit him, a white Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer completed nearly six hours of testimony Friday, recounting the events of the night he shot and killed an unarmed black man nearly two years ago.
Prosecutor Teresa Postell asked why Randall Kerrick turned off his dashcam before reaching the home where there had been a breaking and entering call and challenged entries on his police academy application regarding whether he drank alcohol to the point that he risked being arrested if he attempted to drive a car.
Postell also zeroed in on inconsistencies in Kerrick’s statements to investigators in the hours after the Sept. 14, 2013, shooting.
“This was taken after I was in a fight for my life,” Kerrick said. “I’m sorry if there are a few inconsistencies.”
Later asked if he was having trouble remembering the facts of the shooting, Kerrick replied to Postell, “I live it every day, ma’am.”
A day earlier, Kerrick testified that he didn’t remember how many times he fired his service weapon at former Florida A&M football player Jonathan Ferrell.
But Kerrick was clear in his testimony about why he considered shooting the man at all.
“He was going to attack me. He was going to assault me. He was going to take my gun from me,”
If convicted, Kerrick faces up to 11 years in prison.
Kerrick told the jury that he thought his gun wasn’t working because Ferrell kept coming at him.
“I thought I was going to die because I could do nothing that would stop him,” Kerrick said. He said even when he freed himself after Ferrell fell on his lower legs, he kept his gun trained on him because Ferrell was still moving.
Kerrick said he thought he fired four to six times, but said he now knows it was 12 times. Authorities say he hit Ferrell 10 times. Kerrick was the only officer who fired his gun.
Prosecutors say Kerrick overreacted when he killed Ferrell.
Defense lawyers say the shooting was justified because Ferrell charged officers before they could figure out what was going on and he tried to grab Kerrick’s gun when he fell on the officer.
The jury of eight women and four men appears to be racially diverse, though court officials say they do not track the jurors’ race or ethnicity.
Ferrell was killed a little less than a year before an unarmed black man in New York and an unarmed 18-year-old black male in Ferguson, Missouri, died in separate violent encounters with police — cases that shined a national spotlight on how police treat minorities and sparked calls for widespread reforms. Protests and rioting followed Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson and a grand jury’s refusal to indict the officer. The unrest resumed this week as protesters marked the one-year anniversary of Brown’s death.
Protests also followed the deaths of two unarmed black men after encounters with police earlier this year in Baltimore and South Carolina. Officers have been charged in both of those cases. Kerrick’s trial, while packing the courthouse, has drawn little outside attention. Unlike in some other cases, the officer was arrested and charged about 12 hours after the shooting.
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