Mother Forgives Police Officer Who Shot Her Unarmed Son

PHOTO: Jonathan Ferrell
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The mother of a former Florida A&M University football player killed in a barrage of 10 bullets by a police officer while apparently looking for help after a crashing his car said that she forgives the officer and wishes him the best.

"You caused a great loss to my heart," Georgia Ferrell said at a news conference today as she clutched a Winnie the Pooh bear beloved by her son. "You took a piece of my heart that never can be put back, but I do forgive you. I truly forgive you and wish you the best with your life and turning it over to God."

Ferrell's son Jonathan Ferrell, 24, sought help at a woman's home after a car crash early Saturday morning, but the woman called 911 reporting a strange man outside her door.

"As the officers approached him just to determine it is the individual, what's going on, he just immediately takes off and runs toward a particular officer, and that officer attempted to retreat but at the same the same time fired his weapon," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Moore said.

Police said Officer Thornell Little deployed his CMPD issued Taser at Ferrell but it was unsuccessful.

Officer Randall Kerrick shot at Ferrell 12 times and 10 of the shots hit him, police said.

Ferrell, who played safety at FAMU, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kerrick turned himself in and was charged with voluntary manslaughter. Police determined the shooting was "excessive" and that Kerrick "did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon."

Ferrell's mother and brother, Georgia and Willie Ferrell, traveled from their home in Florida to join their attorney Christopher Chestnut at a news conference in Charlotte, N.C., today.

"I'm somewhat numb," Georgia Ferrell said of losing her son. "I want him back. I want my son to bury me. I don't want to bury him."

Jonathan Ferrell moved to Charlotte from Florida a year ago and was working two jobs to pay for himself to go back to school. He was engaged to be married.

"I wanted grandchildren," his emotional mother said. "He promised me grandchildren years ago, but I guess that's out."

She described her son as a "very uplifting, happy person" who "wouldn't hurt anyone" and had a tendency for taking in stray animals.

"I had to teach Jonathan that worms were not our friends because Mama is scared of them," Georgia Ferrell said with a smile.

"He was one of the most magnificent individuals I ever came in contact with," Jonathan Ferrell's brother Willie said. "Jonathan was never the type of person to harm nobody."

Chestnut praised the police chief for acting quickly with arresting and charging Kerrick.

"We applaud the chief for acting swiftly. That was a bold move. It is unprecedented for a chief to move so quickly in not only suspending an officer, but arresting him," Chestnut said. "You take away the badge from this officer. This was murder. This was manslaughter."

Chestnut also represents the family of Robert Champion, the former FAMU drum major who was hazed to death in 2011.

While the NAACP and ACLU have both commented on Ferrell's death, Chestnut suggested pausing before jumping to conclusions.

"Before we race to assign race to this issue, perhaps we should pause and consider violence," he said.

Kerrick, 27, of Midland, turned himself in for booking Saturday evening and was released on $50,000 bond, according to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office website.

Kerrick, who joined the police force in April 2011, is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday.

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