CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick’s attorney delivered what he calls “good news” to his client Tuesday. Attorney George Laughrun says, “What they decided today by hearing one side of the evidence from two law enforcement personnel was that Officer Wes Kerrick did his job.”
A Mecklenburg County grand jury declined to indict the 27-year-old in the September shooting death of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell, a move even Kerrick’s attorney calls rare. Laughrun says, “In 34 years, I’ve never seen a ‘no true bill’ on something like this. Now, given that statement, I think it shows the depth that the grand jury took this case. It wasn’t like a rubber stamp.”
Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office is prosecuting the case and in a statement to WCCB says “…the grand jury that considered the indictment on charges of voluntary manslaughter was less than a full panel. It would be in the best interest of justice to resubmit this case to a full grand jury, which we plan to do as soon as possible.”
The defense was not allowed inside Tuesday’s proceedings, as is typical. They don’t know what type of evidence prosecutors presented to the jury or what the two witnesses, both officers, said. They do know at least 12 out of a possible 18 jurors were on the panel. Defense attorney Michael Greene says, “Right now we just know that a grand jury that has, by statute, fully convened, found that there is no probable cause for voluntary manslaughter.”
“This is one of the most despicable decisions I’ve ever seen made by human beings,” says Charlotte NAACP President Kojo Nantambu. He says the city should be in an uproar. “For a jury to say they can’t find any reason to indict him is despicable, it’s almost inhumane, but it’s also a testament to the level of racism, bigotry, and indifference that reigns in this city and in this country,” says Nantambu.
The grand jury did something else rare Tuesday; they attached a note to their decision asking prosecutors to submit a bill of indictment to a lesser offense. Kerrick’s attorneys say that’s not going to happen. As for Jonathan Ferrell’s family, so far, they are not commenting on Tuesday’s grand jury decision.