Dashboard video key to NC officer's trial
Officer can't be seen firing his gun 12 times but the sound of each shot was recorded through the microphone
By Jeffrey Collins
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jurors have heard their first account of what happened in the seconds when a white Charlotte police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man looking for help after a car crash.
Footage from officer Adam Neal's dashboard camera was shown publically for the first time Wednesday as Neal testified in the third day of fellow officer Randall Kerrick's voluntary manslaughter trial.
Neal will return to the stand when the trial continues Thursday morning.
On the September 2013 video, Jonathan Ferrell runs out of the camera's view just before he is shot and Kerrick can't be seen firing his gun 12 times. But the sound of each shot was recorded through the microphone on Neal's uniform, along with the voice of someone yelling "Get on the ground!" three times.
Ferrell was hit by 10 bullets.
Jurors watched 36 minutes of video. The critical portion lasted only about five seconds.
Ferrell is seen in the headlights of officer Adam Neal's cruiser as Neal pulls up without using his blue lights or siren. Neal testified that Ferrell was pacing, and Neal saw red laser dots on Ferrell's chest as another officer aimed his Taser at Ferrell.
As Ferrell runs out of the camera's view, a voice is heard yelling "Get on the ground!" Four shots are fired, then a pause and eight more shots are heard as someone keeps yelling to for Ferrell to get on the ground. After the final shot, a voice yells "Don't move!"
Ferrell's family had seen the footage as part of a wrongful death lawsuit they settled with the city of Charlotte for $2.25 million. They showed no reaction to it Wednesday.
Dashboard footage from Kerrick's car and the car of a third officer is also expected to be introduced as evidence.
Prosecutors said Kerrick is guilty because he overreacted when he killed Ferrell. Authorities said the officers did not identify themselves and Neal's video appears to confirm that.
Defense lawyers said the shooting was justified because Ferrell charged officers before they could figure out what was going on and tried to grab Kerrick's gun when he fell on the officer.
Neal testified he didn't pull his gun, Taser or baton because he planned to wrestle the 24-year-old former Florida A&M football player to take him into custody. Neal and other officers were investigating after a woman called 911 and reported Ferrell was trying to break down her door as he pounded on it looking for help.
Under cross-examination, Neal said he didn't fire his weapon because he would have hit Kerrick. He also agreed that he told investigators Ferrell looked like he was "amped up" and was in a "zombie state."
Kerrick, 28, faces up to 11 years in prison if convicted of voluntary manslaughter. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department hired him in 2011 after he had worked as an animal control officer.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press