CHARLOTTE (WBTV) – A mistrial was declared Friday in the trial of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Randall Kerrick, charged with voluntary manslaughter in the September 2013 shooting death of unarmed Jonathan Ferrell, after the jury became deadlocked.
Friday morning, shortly after the fourth day of deliberations were set to begin at 9:30 a.m., Judge Robert Ervin was handed a note. The contents of the note, released around noon, revealed the jury has not reached a conclusion.
The defense said they wanted a mistrial. The state wanted an Allen Charge, to encourage another try.
Just after 4 p.m. Judge Ervin called the jury back into the courtroom with a question – if there was a possibility they could agree on a verdict. All 12 jury members agreed there was not.
As a result, the judge declared a mistrial.
According to the foreman, the jury voted three times. The jury said they voted 7 to 5 on Tuesday, 8 to 4 on Thursday and 8 to 4 on Friday.
Thursday, jurors requested more exhibits: crime scene diagrams, pictures of Kerrick’s injuries, his police academy application essay, a transcript of testimony from Kerrick’s superiors and whether Ferrell was right or left handed.
Judge Robert Ervin granted access to the diagrams but denied the other requests. Ervin said to use recollection of the evidence they were presented.
Wednesday, the jury asked to review eight pieces of evidence: dashcam video, still shots from video, deadly force directives, use of force continuum, and CMPD policy and procedures.
Jurors also asked to see photos of how the cars were positioned and interviews of officers Kerrick, Adam Neal and Thornell Little.
The case against Kerrick has been in the courtroom for five weeks, but the trial was initially expected to last ten weeks.
- July 20, the trial officially got underway with jury selection. Nine days later, we had a full jury, including 4 alternates.
- August 3, opening statements were heard. Two days later, the dashcam video of the deadly encounter was released.
- August 11, the state rested its case.
- August 13, Kerrick took the stand in his own defense and was cross-examined the next day.
Monday was the start of closing arguments. Tuesday, jury deliberations began and stretched into Friday.
Jurors were in a sound proof room with only the essentials, like their notebooks and a writing board.
Kerrick’s defense team says he shot Ferrell in self-defense, as Ferrell charged toward him and attempted to grab his gun. They say Ferrell chose to bang on a door and yell at the 911 caller, and he chose to charge at police officers.
The prosecution said Kerrick changed his story about Ferrell reaching behind his back prior to charging at him.
Before jurors began their deliberations, following closing arguments from the defense and the prosecution, they asked the judge to read the elements of voluntary manslaughter.
Two years ago, Kerrick and other responding officers had identified Ferrell as a possible burglary suspect after a woman called 911 overnight to report a stranger was banging on her door and trying to kick it in.
State prosecutors say Ferrell had been injured after wrecking his car and was seeking help at the woman’s house when he was mistaken as a burglar. They argue Ferrell ran in Kerrick’s direction after fearing for his life when another officer deployed his taser, with red laser beams pointing at Ferrell’s chest.
Reaction to the verdict was a concern. A source tells WBTV that law enforcement agencies as well as the fire department will be given a heads up of 45 minutes before the verdict is read aloud in court. Previously, the court liaison explained there would be a 15 minute warning.
At least two CMPD districts are also being placed on alert in case there’s any possible trouble.