CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CN) – Protests erupted outside the courthouse Friday after a deadlocked jury ended the voluntary-manslaughter case against a North Carolina police officer.
Charlotte-Mecklenberg officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick shot and killed 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell in 2013 after police received a call of a possible break-in in a neighborhood outside of Charlotte. Ferrell, a former Florida A&M University football player, had crashed his fiancee’s car and knocked on the nearby door of a woman, who called 911 after thinking she was in danger.
Jurors had to decide beyond a reasonable doubt whether Kerrick used excessive force when he killed Ferrell. They were unable to do so Friday.
Judge Robert Ervin declared a mistrial shortly after 4 p.m. local time. It was then that he was informed the jury was still deadlocked at a vote of 8-4.
A prosecutor said the jury should continue its deliberations because jurors had said earlier in the day that they were making progress, but the jury foreman disagreed.
“At that time when we were brought in, we were in a discussion that could have had some resolutions, but then we went back to square one after that,” the foreman said. “We have exhausted every possibility and we have gone around and around.”
The foreman told Ervin that stepping away for the weekend would likely not make a difference in the jury deadlock. The jury agreed that it would not be possible to come to a unanimous verdict.
The courtroom audience sat in silence as they listened to Ervin declare a mistrial. One Charlotte man who has been watching the trial because he is concerned about racial tensions surrounding it called the hung jury “just sad.”
“It took two grand juries to get us here,” Connor Wright said. “And now there’s no resolution. No matter which side you’re on, there’s no answers. The tensions won’t be alleviated. We might have another trial, or we might not. It’s complicated, but there just isn’t any resolution and the tensions remain.”
The jury was made up of two Latinos, three blacks and seven whites. Eight were women and four were men.
A small group of protesters took to the street outside the courthouse after a mistrial was declared, showing their disapproval of the judge’s decision. They held signs that said “#justiceforjonathanferrell.”
Echoing a popular refrain from similar protests around the country, some chanted, “The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”
Prosecutors said they will review the court record before deciding whether they will retry the case.
An attorney for the Ferrell family said they will petition for a retrial.
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