Cop said he shot man because he feared he would take his gun

AP News
Posted: Aug 07, 2015 6:41 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina police officer told investigators the unarmed black man he is accused of shooting two years ago had "crazy-looking eyes," and said he feared the man would take his gun, a detective testified Friday.

Detective Edwin Morales was on the witness stand for nearly four hours in the trial of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Officer Randall Kerrick. Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell, a former Florida A&M football player.

"They almost looked gray," Kerrick told Morales in describing Ferrell's eyes during an interview on the morning of the shooting. "They looked almost like a hologram. It was very strange."

A portion of the video of the interview was played in court before the trial adjourned for the weekend. Testimony resumes Monday at 9:30 a.m.

Relying on memory and a transcript of his interview, Morales said Kerrick told him he yelled at Ferrell to stop after another officer's Taser failed to affect Ferrell. When Kerrick yelled to Ferrell to stop, the man turned his attention to the officer.

"I was giving him loud commands, but he wasn't paying me a bit of attention," Kerrick said.

"He picked up the pace, really quick. That's when I fired a shot," Kerrick said. "I didn't want him to take my gun from me."

According to Morales, Kerrick said he fired at Ferrell several times and fell while he backpedaled. He said the gunshots didn't appear to faze Ferrell. Kerrick said Ferrell eventually fell on his feet and lower legs, adding that he didn't see anything in Ferrell's hands.

The trial began with the dashcam video of Ferrell's deadly confrontation with Kerrick taken from another patrol car. Morales said Kerrick also had dashcam capability in his patrol car, which he said was activated automatically when he turned on his lights and siren and headed to the scene. But when Kerrick turned off the lights and siren, he turned off the camera and Kerrick said he didn't turn it back on, according to Morales.

Defense attorney George Laughrun objected to the line of questioning, saying Morales was giving "cut and paste" answers as he referred to the transcript of his interview. Laughrun contended prosecutors weren't providing the complete answers Kerrick gave to the investigators.

"The state's giving the jury half a loaf. They deserve a whole answer," Laughrun said.

The judge overruled the objection.

Ferrell was shot and killed after he wrecked his car and knocked on the door of a house apparently seeking help. The person in the house called police.

Investigators say Kerrick was one of three officers who responded and the only one who used his gun. Investigators say he fired 12 shots. Ten of them hit Ferrell, who was not armed.