Family Sues After Unarmed Crash Victim Killed by Cops

Jonathon Ferrell's family wants to see police dash-cam video
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2014 9:43 AM CST
Family Sues After Unarmed Crash Victim Killed by Cops
This combination of undated photos provided by Florida A&M University and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police shows Jonathan Ferrell, left, and police officer Randall Kerrick.   (AP Photo/Florida A&M University, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police)

The family of Jonathon Ferrell, the unarmed man shot dead by a police officer after crashing his car in North Carolina in September, filed a wrongful death lawsuit this week. They say autopsy results show most of the 10 police bullets were shot downward, suggesting Ferrell, 24, was on the ground or on his knees when he was killed by Officer Randall Kerrick. In addition to monetary damages, the lawsuit is also seeking a subpoena forcing police to turn over records including the dash-cam video of the incident, a lawyer for the family tells NBC News. Meanwhile, the attorney general is seeking an indictment against Kerrick, who is on unpaid leave and has been charged with voluntary manslaughter, and the charges will go before a grand jury a week from today, the Charlotte Observer reports.

It's still not entirely clear what happened after Ferrell walked to a nearby house after the crash looking for help. He knocked and a woman answered, assuming it was her husband, then saw Ferrell, closed the door, and called 911 to report a break-in. Police say Ferrell ran toward the three officers who responded and that one of the officers attempted to use a Taser, which didn't connect, before Ferrell was shot. But the wrongful death suit accuses Kerrick of missteps including not identifying himself, approaching Ferrell with his gun drawn and "using stealth and surprise," and not seeing that Ferrell was trying to comply with his orders. The family's lawyer suspects Ferrell was simply walking "briskly" to police because he was glad they were there to help, CNN reports. (More Randall Kerrick stories.)

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