Sep 18, 2013

(AP) -- A sobbing woman pleads for police to “please hurry” because a man was breaking into her front door during a 911 call recorded moments before a responding officer shot and killed an unarmed man outside.

The unidentified woman kept repeating “Oh, my god! Oh, my god!” throughout the call, which was released Tuesday. She also told the 911 operator that she had a baby in a crib and didn’t know what to do. Later, she said the man knocked on her door and “he’s in my front yard yelling.”

Authorities said Jonathan A. Ferrell was shot 10 times by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer after being involved in a single-car wreck. Police have said Ferrell may have been seeking help and made no verbal threats to the woman.

Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter. His lawyers were in court Tuesday for a first appearance on the charge. Kerrick, 27, did not attend. The judge scheduled an Oct. 7 probable cause hearing for Kerrick.

After the hearing, defense attorney Michael Greene declined to take questions but said of Kerrick: “His actions were justified on the night in question.”

Kerrick joined the police force after working as an animal control officer. He grew up in nearby Cabarrus County.

Kerrick and two other officers responding to the breaking and entering call found Ferrell on a road that only leads to the neighborhood’s pool. Ferrell ran toward the officers, who tried to stop him with a Taser. Police said he continued to run toward them when Kerrick shot him. Ferrell died at the scene.

A Ferrell family attorney and representatives of the NAACP have questioned whether race played a role in the shooting. Ferrell is black, while Kerrick is white. Though there was praise for police for quickly filing charges, some said the shooting didn’t surprise them, considering portrayals of black men in popular culture and previous instances of racially inflected violence

On the 911 tape released by the city, the woman tells a dispatcher that she thought her husband had returned home around 2:30 a.m. But when she opened the door, a man tried to get in.

Sobbing and trying to catch her breath, the woman asked the dispatcher: “Where are the cops?”

The dispatcher tried to calm her down, repeating over and over that they were on the way.

He also asked her to describe the man. She told him he was black, about 210 pounds and wearing a green shirt.

At one point, the woman told the dispatcher about her baby. “He’s in his bed. I don’t know what to do. I can’t believe I opened the door…Please don’t let him get my baby,” she cried.

When police arrived at the scene, she peeked out her window. And when the officers began looking for a man, the dispatcher assured the woman they weren’t leaving.

On Monday, Ferrell’s family said in their first public remarks in the case that the former Florida A&M University football player moved to Charlotte about a year ago to be with his fiancee and was working two jobs. He wanted to go back to school and eventually become an automotive engineer, they said.

The encounter was set in motion around 2:30 a.m. Saturday when Ferrell’s car ran off the entrance road to a suburban neighborhood about 15 miles from downtown Charlotte.

After crashing his car into trees, Ferrell kicked out the back window and headed up a hill to the first set of closely-clustered houses he could see. He then started “banging on the door viciously” of a home to attract attention, police Chief Rodney Monroe said.

The shooting of an unarmed former Florida A&M football player in Charlotte, N.C., began with a 911 call from a terrified woman whose front door he had knocked on, possibly seeking help, the tape of the emergency call released today shows.

The man, now identified as Jonathan Ferrell, 24, had crashed his car nearby and arrived at the woman’s house to ask for help around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, police said.

“There’s a guy breaking in my front door — trying to kick it down,” she told the operator. “Oh god. Oh my god.”

The woman, who was alone in the house with her sleeping child, told the 911 operator that the stranger approached her front door and she opened it, thinking it was her husband coming home from work, and then slammed it shut when she saw the man.

The opening of the door set off the alarm on her home, and the man began yelling for her to turn off the alarm, she told the operator.

The woman was frantic about how to defend herself if he attempted to come inside.

“He’s not in the house, he’s in the front yard yelling,” she told the operator. “I can’t believe I opened the door. What the f**k is wrong with me. My husband has a gun and I can’t find it.”

When police arrived at the woman’s home, Ferrell began running toward one officer, according to the police account of the incident.

“Oh my god. Where is he going? Why is he running? Why is he leaving?” the woman can be heard saying on the 911 call. “Oh my god.”

According to police, when Ferrell began running at the officer, one cop tried unsuccessfully to Taser him. When that failed, another officer fired his gun, shooting at Ferrell 12 times and hitting him 10 times. Ferrell died at the scene.

The gunshots are not audible on the 911 tape.

Police determined the shooting was “excessive” and that Kerrick “did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon.”

Officer Randall Kerrick turned himself in and was charged with voluntary manslaughter.

His attorney said today that he is confident Kerick’s name will be cleared.

“We’re going to allow this case to be tried in a court of law,” defense attorney Mike Greene said today, according to ABC affiliate WSOC-TV in Charlotte. “However, we’re confident at the resolution of this case and that it will be found that Officer Kerrick’s actions were justified on the night in question.”


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