Jonathon Ferrell, a former Florida A&M University football player who police say was shot and killed in Charlotte, North Carolina, while he might have been seeking help early Saturday morning after a severe car crash, "always had a smile" and was an aspiring engineer, his mother and attorney said.
His mother, Georgia, clutching her son's childhood teddy bear "pooh bear" appeared on HLN's After Dark Tuesday and described Ferrell as "part of my heart."
"Jonathon knew how to make me laugh, because he always had a smile," she said. She also said her son was happy, outgoing and "so loving, so kind" to his friends and family.
Ferrell was close to his brother Willie, his mother told FAMU's student newspaper in November 2010, when her youngest son transferred to the school from the University of Mississippi. Her boys were like "twins" because they were born just 16 months apart, she said.
The brothers, natives of Tallahassee, Florida, grew up playing football together and even shared FAMU's football field as teammates.
In his own words, Jonathon Ferrell described the joy of two of his greatest loves -- family and football.
"Playing football with (Willie) again feels like it did in high school, summer nights you don't want to end because they are so much fun," he told The Famuan in November 2010. "It's refreshing to come in the locker room and have your best friend to laugh with."
Their father died when Jonathon Ferrell was 4, spurring him to always look after his little brother.
Willie Ferrell said his brother was supportive and patient with him even during his darkest moments.
"At the age of 19, I was 6-2 and a half, 250 pounds, and my brother was 5-11, 190. He would hold me all night as I cried for hours, and tell me I would be an amazing person," he said on HLN's After Dark.
At the time of the shooting, Jonathon Ferrell was in the process of transferring to a school in Charlotte to be with his fiancée, who had recently been hired as an accountant in the area.
"We loved him. Our family loved him," his fiancée's mother told HLN affiliate WSOC.
Chris Chestnut, an attorney for the Ferrell family, said Jonathon Ferrell was living the American dream, majoring in chemistry, and aspired to be an engineer. He was working two jobs to pay his way through private school in Charlotte, but still made time to call his mother every morning.
"I can't think of a bad thing he had done," Georgia Ferrell told CNN.
A bright future cut short?
Police say Ferrell's car slipped into a ravine in Charlotte, requiring him to kick his way out of a back windshield to climb out. Ferrell then knocked on the door of a nearby home looking for help. The homeowner panicked and called 911.
When police arrived at the scene, Ferrell, who was unarmed, "advanced" toward them, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said. One of the officers fired a stun gun, but it was "unsuccessful," they said over the weekend.
Officer Randall Kerrick then "fired his weapon 12 times and struck Mr. Ferrell 10 times resulting in his death," according to a police statement released Monday.
Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter and was released on $50,000 bond Sunday. Kerrick's attorney Michael Green told HLN that Kerrick's actions the night of the shooting were justified.
"We're not going to make any general statements about the evidence at this time, as the case is still pending. We're going to allow this case to be tried in a court of law," Green said. "However, we're confident that the resolution of this case will be found that Officer Kerrick's actions were justified on the night in question."
Since Ferrell's death, his friends and family have shared their outrage and their devastating loss.
"We're going to file the necessary legal actions to ensure that we get the answers that this family deserves, that America deserves," Willie Ferrell told CNN Monday. "This was an unwarranted, inhumane shooting."