A North Carolina police officer has been charged with voluntary manslaughter after he shot and killed an unarmed man who may have been looking for help early Saturday morning, officials said.
Local media identified the victim as a former football player for Florida A&M; University.
Jonathan Ferrell, 24, appeared to have survived a “serious” car accident sometime after midnight when he knocked on a Charlotte woman’s door about a half-mile away, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe told reporters at a televised news conference Saturday.
“To her surprise, it was an individual she did not know or recognize,” Monroe said. “She immediately closed the door, hit her panic alarm, called 911.”
He added, “It was quite possible he was seeking assistance based on his accident.”
Three officers responded to the call and spotted Ferrell. In the initial account police gave local reporters, Ferrell acted aggressively, and one officer tried to use a Taser on him.
“He immediately charged toward the three officers, one in particular,” Monroe said at the afternoon news conference. “That officer in particular fired his weapon several times, striking the individual multiple times.”
Ferrell -- who was unarmed -- died. On Saturday night police announced that the officer who shot him had been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.
Officer Randall Kerrick was in custody as of Saturday night. At the news conference earlier in the day, the chief had said that he’d spoken to Kerrick about the incident, and that the officer was “devastated by it.”
By Saturday evening, Monroe said investigators had determined that Kerrick “did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter” and that the shooting was “excessive,” according to the Charlotte Observer.
“It’s with heavy hearts and significant regrets it’s come to this,” Monroe told the newspaper, “Our hearts go out to the Ferrell family and many members of the [Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department] family. This is never something easy.”
Ferrell played safety for Florida A&M; University, which is based in Tallahassee.