Charlotte, N.C., jurors are deciding whether police officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick used excessive force two years ago when he fatally shot an unarmed Jonathan Ferrell 10 times. Jurors must decide if Kerrick, 29, overreacted when he shot Ferrell during their brief encounter in 2013. To acquit him, the panel must find that Kerrick acted with a reasonable belief that Ferrell posed a threat to kill or seriously injure him or two other officers. The Charlotte Observer says the trial has played out against the nationwide debate over police use of force against African-Americans. Kerrick is white. Ferrell, 24, a former college football player, was black, and the issue of race, dormant for most of the trial, flared up during closing arguments.
A state prosecutor, who is black, quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his closing remarks. One of Kerrick's attorneys, who is white, then accused the state of “inserting the race card” into the proceedings. “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity,” prosecutor Adren Harris said, quoting King, as he derided police testimony on how Ferrell's actions contributed to his death. “There is no place for race in this case,” defense attorney George Laughrun told the jury, which is made up of seven whites, three blacks and two Latinos. “You should be offended that the state inserted the race card this morning.”