Man seeking help gunned down in one of two police shootings
By Ed Payne and Josh Levs
(CNN) — Two police shootings made headlines over the weekend. Each comes with its own set of unanswered questions.
In North Carolina, police shot and killed a man who may have been running to them for help after crashing his car.
And in New York, police said a man was trying to commit “suicide by cop” when he confronted officers. Instead, the officers ended up wounding two women near busy Times Square on a Saturday night.
Jonathan Ferrell, 24, was loving and giving, the kind of many who would stop to help anyone, his family told CNN on Monday.
His life came to an abrupt end when a police officer shot him several times in the overnight hours early Saturday.
He was unarmed, and apparently looking to them for help after a car crash.
“This is an all-American young man who survived a horrific accident. he is crying for help and is showered with bullets,” Chris Chestnut, attorney for the Ferrell family, said Monday on CNN’s “New Day.”
Officers responded to a “breaking and entering” 911 call at a home in Charlotte early Saturday. The homeowner told dispatchers that a man had been knocking on her door repeatedly.
When police got to the scene, they say a man matching the caller’s description ran toward them.
One of the officers fired his stun gun. When that proved to be “unsuccessful,” another officer opened fire, police said.
Ferrell, a former football player at Florida A&M University, died at the scene.
Investigators say he had sought help after crashing his car, and ran to the nearest house.
“It was a pretty serious accident,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe told CNN affiliate WSOC.
The crash was so severe that authorities believe Ferrell had to climb out of the back window, affiliate WBTV reported.
Police have charged Officer Randall Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter — a felony. He was released Sunday on $50,000 bond.
Kerrick was one of three officers at the scene, but he was the only one to use a gun, firing it several times, police said.
“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 a statement. “Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter. ”
A charge of voluntary manslaughter means the person used excessive force in self-defense, or carried out the act without intent to kill.
At a news conference, Monroe said, “Our heart(s) go out to the family” and to members of the police force. “This is never something easy.”
Many unanswered questions remain, attorney Chestnut says.
“Why was this officer even with a badge and having a gun? What are the policies and procedures? What is the training that would allow an officer to act so irrationally, so inhumanely?”
Chestnut also represented the family of Robert Champion, a Florida A&M University student who died in 2010 from a hazing incident.
Ferrell’s brother Willie called Jonathan the “greatest man I ever came in contact with.”
“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 said. “This was an unwarranted, inhumane shooting.”
Georgia Ferrell said her son held down two jobs and would call her every morning to talk for about an hour.
“He was very, very happy,” she said.
A civil rights group scheduled a news conference Monday to demand justice in the case.
“I’ve gotten calls from whites, blacks,” John Barnett with the civil rights group True Healing Under God Initiative told WSOC. “Hispanic people are concerned.”
In New York City
Police believe 35-year-old Glenn Broadnax was “emotionally disturbed” and trying to commit “suicide by cop” when, New York police say, he triggered a police shooting near Times Square Saturday night.
“He said he was on a mission to kill himself,” a law enforcement official told CNN.
Broadnax was walking into traffic in front of the Port Authority bus terminal, apparently trying to be hit by cars, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said late Saturday. He dodged police who tried to take him into custody, then mimicked shooting a gun at officers, prompting the officers to return fire with real bullets.
“At some time he reached into his pocket, took out his hand and simulated as if he was shooting at them,” Kelly told reporters late Saturday.
Two officers fired three shots before the unarmed Broadnax was brought down with a Taser.
The gunfire missed Broadnax, but wounded two bystanders. Police have charged him with menacing, obstructing governmental administration, riot, criminal possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, the New York Pp;D said.
A 54-year-old woman was shot in the right leg and underwent surgery. A 37-year-old was grazed in the buttocks, police said.
The first woman was listed in stable condition, while the other woman was treated and released overnight, hospital officials told CNN.
Later, NYPD Sgt. Lee Jones said that the 54-year-old victim underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to her right leg.
Broadnax was taken to Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital “as an emotionally disturbed person,” the NYPD said.
An investigation into the shooting was under way, Kelly said. Broadnax has a lengthy criminal record, totaling 23 arrests, according to police.
It’s the second high-profile case in about a year in which NYPD officers have shot bystanders after opening fire in a busy public space. Police wounded nine pedestrians outside the Empire State Building during an August 2012 gun battle with a man who had just killed a former co-worker. Officers also killed the gunman.
CNN’s Susan Candiotti, Jessica King, AnneClaire Stapleton, Rich Phillips, Janet DiGiacomo, John Branch, Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, Julie Cannold, Morgan Winsor, Faith Karimi, Elizabeth Landers, Lindy Royce and Matt Smith contributed to this report.
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