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N.C. officer won't face second trial for shooting unarmed man after car crash

N.C. officer won't face second trial for shooting unarmed man after car crash
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall "Wes" Kerrick during his manslaughter trial in Charlotte, N.C. (Davie Hinshaw / AP)

North Carolina prosecutors will not attempt a second criminal trial for a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man who had crashed his car, officials said Friday.

Last week, a judge declared a mistrial after jurors failed to agree on whether Charlotte-Mecklenburg Officer Randall Kerrick had committed voluntary manslaughter when he shot former Florida A&M football player Jonathan Ferrell in September 2013.

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Kerrick, who shot Ferrell 10 times, said he feared for his life when Ferrell ran toward him. Prosecutors said Kerrick should have used nonlethal force. Eight jurors voted for acquittal and four for conviction after three days of deliberations.

"In consideration of the jurors' comments, the evidence available to the state, and our background in criminal trials, it is our prosecutors' unanimous belief a retrial will not yield a different result," the North Carolina attorney general's office said in a letter to the Mecklenburg County district attorney's office, which had asked the attorney general's office to handle the case.

"While our prosecutors tried to seek a conviction, it appears a majority of the jurors did not believe the criminal conviction was the appropriate verdict," Senior Deputy Atty. Gen. Robert C. Montgomery wrote in the letter.

Kerrick's attorney did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

With hundreds of police killings each year, Kerrick's case was notable for being one of a few in which a police officer faced criminal charges for using deadly force.

Police responded to the scene early Sept. 14, 2013, after Ferrell had banged on the door of a home near where he had crashed his car. Kerrick's attorneys focused on the fact that Ferrell had marijuana and alcohol in his system.

One of Kerrick's superiors, however, testified at trial that the shooting violated department policy. Kerrick has been suspended without pay since the incident.

Ferrell's family, which settled a lawsuit with the city of Charlotte for $2.25 million, was disappointed both by the trial and prosecutors' decision not to try again.

"It's a trying time, but we're going to get through it with faith and prayer," Ferrell's mother, Georgia Ferrell of Tallahassee, Fla., told the Los Angeles Times on Friday, when asked about the jury and the prosecution's respective decisions. "We will not give up, we will continue to fight for Jonathan, and we will do everything in our power to make sure the state doesn't give up on justice for Jon."

She urged protesters to keep pushing for change peacefully.

Ferrell's brother, Willie, 25, told The Times that he didn't think prosecutors did enough.

"The guy was not convicted who shot someone unarmed 10 times," Willie Ferrell said. "They did not fight the entire fight like they should have."

He added, "Jonathan cannot speak from the grave. … I must speak for my brother. ... He tried to receive help; instead he received 10 bullets in the chest."

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