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Did police shoot a man who just needed help?

  • NEW: Jonathon Ferrell, 24, was shot multiple times in chest
  • A North Carolina law enforcement officer is charged with voluntary manslaughter for shooting an unarmed man
  • Police say Ferrell might have been seeking assistance after a car accident
Did police shoot a man who just needed help?
Jonathan Ferrell

A North Carolina police officer is facing charges after allegedly shooting and killing an unarmed man who apparently sought help after a car accident Saturday morning.

Police say a wrecked car was found near the scene of the shooting around 2 a.m.

“It was a pretty serious accident," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe told HLN affiliate WSOC.

The car was so severely damaged that Jonathon Ferrell, a former Florida A&M University football player, might have had to climb out of a back window, affiliate WBTV reported.

Police say they believe Ferrell, 24, then went to the closest nearby house looking for help. The woman inside the home thought the person knocking on her door was her husband, but when she didn’t recognize Ferrell, she panicked. 

"To her surprise, it was an individual that she did not know or recognize," Monroe told WBTV. "She immediately closed the door, hit her panic alarm, called 911."

The man stood outside and "continued to attempt to gain the attention of the homeowner," a police statement said.

When police responded to the 911 call, Ferrell allegedly “ran” toward the officers. One of the three officers at the scene fired a stun gun at Ferrell but was “unsuccessful,” police said.

Officer Randall Kerrick then allegedly opened fire. Ferrell died at the scene from multiple gunshots to his chest.

Eric Wheller, an investigator with the Mecklenberg County Medical Examiner's Office tells HLN it is not clear how many rounds hit Ferrell.  He also says that a  full autopsy report will be available in four to six weeks.

"The evidence revealed that Mr. Ferrell did advance on Officer Kerrick and the investigation showed that the subsequent shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive," police said in another statement issued late Saturday night. "Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter. "

Kerrick was the only officer to fire his gun during the incident. However, all three officers have been placed on paid leave.  

A statement released by police calls the shooting “unfortunate.”

"It has devastated a family as well as caused a great deal of sadness and anxiety in our organization," the statement said.

Police said they believe Ferrell was just looking for help after the accident.

Kerrick turned himself in to the police Saturday night and was charged with voluntary manslaughter. He was released on $50,000 bond.

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