Friends and family gathered in two states Saturday afternoon to say their final farewells to 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell, the former Florida A&M football player shot dead on Saturday, September 14 by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick, 27, while seeking help after a serious car accident, reports the Charlotte Observer.
A funeral was held in Ferrell’s hometown of Tallahassee, Florida, and a memorial service was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Ferrell had recently moved to be with his fiancee, Caché Heidel, a Charlotte accountant who had been his girlfriend since middle school.
“It’s like a sore. It’s like an open wound all over again,” said memorial attendee Bonita Winchester, whose son, Aaron, was killed by CMPD in 2008.
“It’s feels just like the same. Another mother is mourning and there’s no greater mourning like the loss of a child,” said Winchester.
Community leader Tigress McDaniel said that the Kerrick’s charges should be upgraded to murder, reports WBTV.
“Ten shots are willful and gross negligence, it’s ‘I’m know what I’m doing and I’m going to continue to do it’,” said McDaniel.
At Ferrell’s funeral, his family and friends celebrated a life well-lived, but cut much too short:
“It matters what you do while you’re here. Jon is a role model for black men, young black men, all across America,” said Leo Jackson, who played with Ferrell in 2006 when the Florida A&M Developmental Research School won a state championship.
“There is no substitute for hard work. That’s what Jon believed.”
Trone Williams, a Leon County Sheriff’s deputy who grew up with the Ferrell children and now works with Jon Ferrell’s sister Joy, according to the Observer, is still in disbelief:
“I don’t understand. What went wrong?” Williams said at the funeral.
Read more about Ferrell’s life below:
Ferrell’s athletic accomplishments dominated the weekend conversations.
He was a gymnast as a child. Later, in high school, his fourth-quarter interception in the state championship game helped set up the winning touchdown. And at Florida A&M, where he was a backup safety and special teams player, when he was on the field, “somebody was about to get hit,” said his former coach at Florida A&M, Earl Holmes.
Yet Eileen Warner, his high school English teacher for three years, said all that talk makes her former student seem one-dimensional.
“Football, football, football,” she said last week. “That was only one aspect of this child’s life. He was a steady, constant worker who was academically focused.”
Ferrell was the second-youngest of the five Ferrell children. Their father died when the children were young. Georgia Ferrell raised them by herself.
“Their momma did not play,” said Lesia Washington, a family friend. “She was stern.”
By the time Ferrell sat in Warner’s classroom, he had developed into a quiet, observant student. Paging through her records, Warner said Ferrell performed particularly well on writing assignments about family and relationships.
Ferrell’s death, she said, hit her hard. “I’ve loved them all,” she said, “but some of them stay with me a little longer. They leave imprints on their teachers that they don’t even know.”
Soon, the athletic and academic sides of Ferrell’s high school career will come together. Next month, the school will retire his jersey, and Warner said the school will soon announce a foundation in his name.
Read more about Ferrell’s life at the Charlotte Observer.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Ferrell was in a serious car crash and after kicking out his back window, walked to a nearby cluster of homes and knocked on the first door for help. A woman answered the door thinking it was her husband and immediately slammed it in Ferrell’s face before calling 911.
On the 911 tape released by the city, the woman can be heard sobbing to the dispatcher, begging them to hurry and telling them that her baby was in the house with her.
“He’s in his bed. I don’t know what to do. I can’t believe I opened the door…Please don’t let him get my baby,” she cried.
Kerrick was one of the responding officers and as they approached, Ferrell ran towards them for help. One of the officers allegedly tried to stop him with a Taser, but Ferrell continued to approach. That is when Kerrick shot him 12 times, 10 of the bullets piercing his body.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe said that even if Ferrell didn’t stop running toward Kerrick, deadly force wasn’t justified. Ferrell was unarmed, and both Monroe and Ferrell family attorney Chris Chestnut, who watched the dashboard video of the shooting, said that was clear. Chestnut said Ferrell had his hands outstretched, and they were empty.
“I can tell you this is what I saw: Absolutely, unequivocally, there were no words said, period, from any of the officers prior to Jonathan being hit with a stun gun, Chestnut said.
“He’s not yelling at them. He’s not threatening them,” he said.
At one point, an officer yelled “get on the ground,” but it was hard to tell if it was right before or right after the first shot was fired, he said.
“But I can tell you that those shots were in such close proximity that Jonathan never had an opportunity to reply. He had bullets in him before he could ever hit the ground. So there was not sufficient warning. No one ever told him to stop. He didn’t have time to react,” he said.
According to the Observer, the Charlotte NAACP plans to meet Monday evening to discuss the epidemic of gun violence aimed at young, Black men.
Rev. Chris Burney had words of encouragement for Ferrell’s loved ones:
“This ain’t the end of the story,” Burney said during the funeral service. “Somebody gonna have a family reunion after a while.”
See WBTV news report below: