Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick’s appearance in court tdoay is expected to become a scene in a larger story: the nationwide debate over the use of deadly force by police against unarmed subjects, the Charlotte Observer reports. Kerrick is accused of voluntary manslaughter in the 2013 shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell. His scheduled appearance set off vigils and marches last night tht are expected to resume today. The charges against Kerrick are being lumped with police-related killings this year in Ferguson, Mo., New York City and Cleveland. All involved the deaths of African-American men at the hands of white police officers. Unlike in the other cities, Charlotte police arrested one of their own. Kerrick was also indicted.
In a significant difference from the other investigations, Kerrick did not testify before the grand jury considering charges against him. Grand jury testimony by the officers in Ferguson and New York City generally is cited as being a key factor in the decisions by those panels not to indict. Had Kerrick been able to testify, he might not be in court today, says Davidson College history professor Daniel Aldridge. “In my experience, jurors believe police are doing dangerous, necessary work, and they give officers the benefit of the doubt whenever possible,” said Aldridge, a former public defender.