Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jonathan Ferrell Needed Help But Instead He Was Shot To Death

There are times when the universe seems to align and things just fall neatly into place as though it was meant to happen that way. Like, say, some time ago, when a guy, new to the internet, was in an AOL chatroom — Remember those days? — and started chatting with another guy.

Where are you?
I’m in Cali ….

And the first guy, being from Mexico, took Cali to mean Cali, Colombia, while the second guy meant Cali as in California.

That little misstep started Carlos and I chatting online and here we are over thirteen years later.
As I said, there are times when the universe aligns and wonderful things happen. But—and you know with me, there’s always a but—there are other times when the universe misses by that much all sorts of hell break loose.

Last Saturday night, or rather, very early Sunday morning, Sarah McCartney heard a loud bang on her front door. She was home alone, with just her baby, and thought maybe something had happened to her husband. She opened the door to find a young black man standing on her porch.

McCartney instantly closed the door and called 911 to report an attempted robbery.
“I need help. There’s a guy breaking into my front door, he’s trying to kick it down.”
She told the operator she was home alone, and that her husband had guns, but she couldn’t find them. Then she’s heard saying, over and over:
“Oh my God … He’s in the front yard yelling … I need help.”
Still on the phone with 911 when police arrived, McCartney says, “Oh, please let them get him.”

The police found the young Black man in McCartney’s yard, and he started coming toward them. One officer shot the man with a Taser, but that didn’t stop him, so another officer, Randall Kerrick, fired at the Black man twelve times, hitting him ten times. The young man was unarmed.

The young man was Jonathan Ferrell, a twenty-four-year-old, former Florida A&M University [FAMU] foot ball player, who had recently moved from that state to Charlotte, North Carolina to be with his fiancée, his high school sweetheart. And he was killed last weekend by police after wrecking his car along the road and then dragging himself to Sarah McCartney’s front door, begging for help.

Officer Kerrick has been charged with voluntary manslaughter; the two other responding officers, Thornell Little and Adam Neal, have been placed on paid administrative leave.

Now, there’s more to the story, of course; there are some who are calling this an act of racism, because Jonathan Ferrell was a black man and Randall Kerrick was white, but we don’t know that right now. We don’t know if Kerrick fired because Ferrell was Black, or if he fired because Ferrell, who had been Tasered, continued to advance towards him.

But, what we do know are a couple of things — and I’ll say this without laying blame:
  • Had Sarah McCartney taken an extra minute at her door that night, she might have learned about Ferrell’s accident. Then, her 911 call might have been used to get the young man medical treatment.
  • And, had the officers taken a moment longer and seen that Jonathan Ferrell was unarmed—and possibly injured—perhaps Kerrick wouldn’t have fired 12 shots at the man, hitting him ten times.

As I said, the universe aligns every so often to make things happen, and last weekend, had people listened, paid attention, and really seen what was happening, Jonathan Ferrell might be nursing the wounds of a car accident, and not be ready for burial after being shot to death. 

For her part, Sarah McCartney told reporters: “I feared for my life and my son’s life.”

All because a black man was knocking on her door at 2:30 in the morning. Now, I’m not blaming her, much, but I will say this, and hope that people listen: not every knock at the door is an attempted robbery, and the man banging on the door isn’t a thief simply because of his skin color. Sometimes they are 24-year-old former football players on their way home to their fiancé.

Georgia Ferrell, Jonathan’s mother, says Randall Kerrick took a piece of her heart that she can never get back, but added:
“He took my son from me, but I can only stand here and tell you that I believe God is the one listening to me right now and God would want me to forgive. If I don’t forgive, it will be on me forever.”

I think it will be on all of us forever, too.


truthspew said...

When you think about it we white/pink people have been taught time and again that all black men are criminals and that we should fear them.

But you see, I know the real truth. The biggest criminal element out there is white guys.

So we've been sold a falsehood. And all of it in the service of racism.

the dogs' mother said...

There are issues with being female - I do not answer the door at night. If that happened here I would go to an upstairs window and call out and ask what they wanted. I would also allow the dogs to bark all they wanted. If someone needed help I would call 911 for them.
I notice a lot of tradesmen will knock on the door and then step back down the stairs so they are not looming over me when I open the door. Something this young man would not have known.
A tragedy all around.

SEAN (The Jeep Guy) said...

I don't understand how these things happen - couldn't he speak? Why did he keep advancing rather than just falling to the ground? I'm not saying it's his fault at all, I just want to know how all these people couldn't see the difference of an injured person who wasn't running away and a would be robber just standing around until the police showed up. And just what kind of thief knocks???

anne marie in philly said...


Huntress aka R.J. said...

I don't answer my front door at night. Period. I my 'hood, it's usually trouble. Big trouble.

Once, someone in the apartment complex down the block opened their front door at 2am. The person on the other side had a shotgun and pulled the trigger on them.

Bob Slatten said...

Here's my take:
Ferrell bangs at the door because he's hurt. She finds a strange disheveled black man--and he may have been bloodied--saying 'Let me in' or 'Help me' and she panicked and called 911.

Officers respond to what they are told is a robbery and find a black man advancing. Maybe in the rush they didn't hear him say anything.

That said, why fire 12 times? Why not fire at his legs, once and if you don't hit him in the leg, fire again. It seemed like, and forgive the pun, overkill.

Anonymous said...

@Sean(The Jeep Guy)

He may have had a head injury, a concussion or worse. That would be his inability to communicate effectively.

As a former Footballer, he was probably in good enough shape to still move around, and in edition to the head injury he may have honestly not have thought about just sitting down and waiting.

Stranger things have happened.

@Bob Slatten
All police are trained to shoot center mass and to shoot until the threat has been downed. That can mean dead or injured. Doesn't matter, as long as the threat is no longer a threat is the point.

That is simply the only "safe" way to employ a gun. You aim for a leg which is so much smaller, you have a chance of missing. Same for aiming to the edges of the body. You miss and the threat gets a chance to hurt or kill you. You miss, the bullet keeps going, hits a rock and kills some kid a block away. So many variables.

Also assuming that a leg shot or a shoulder shot is "safer" is much more wrong. There are major arteries and joints and muscle groups that can get hit. You hit the first, you die as your heart literally empties your body of blood. The second, you are crippled for life assuming you are hit with a hollow point in the meat or any type of bullet in the joint. Getting shot in the body, assuming survival, is just as serious, but that and in addition to various other issues still makes it the best spot to aim for.

Biki Honko said...

If only we didnt need to fear our fellow humans....

Biki Honko said...

how sad....