Written by Jennah Quinn
Former Florida A&M college football player, 24-year- old Jonathan Ferrell was shot and killed by police officers early Saturday Sept. 14. Police reports state that Ferrell had survived a car wreck when he began knocking on nearby homes searching for help. A woman opened her front door assuming it was her husband who was returning home late from work; when she saw that it was Ferrell, frightened, she shut the door and immediately called police to report an in-progress breaking and entering.
When police arrived on the scene and approached the victim, he began running towards them. In an attempt to apprehend an unarmed Ferrell, the officers tasered him multiple times; when he did not succumb to the thousands of electrical bolts, he was shot 10 times and killed in cold blood by officer Randall Kerrick. Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter and released on $50,000 bond. Police statements report “Kerrick did not have lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter. The investigation showed that the subsequent shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive.”
Jonathan Ferrell was murdered by a police officer— someone who has sworn to serve and protect us as the people of the United States of America. Police brutality among white officers and black civilians has been an issue in our community for decades dating as far back as Rodney King and Sean Bell. A case that has not received nationwide attention from the media is the case 38-year-old Marlon Brown of Florida; an unarmed black male who was run over and killed by a police vehicle earlier this year in May while fleeing from police on foot after being pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. The victim’s family released the graphic surveillance footage from the police vehicle’s dashboard of Brown being struck and toppled by the car. On November 2, 2013—19-year-old Renisha McBride was shot and killed in an incident similar to Jonathan Ferrell. She too had just been involved in a car accident in the predominantly white neighborhood of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, when she sought help from a nearby home.
McBride was shot in the face as she stood on the porch of the 54-year- old homeowner who claimed his shotgun accidentally discharged. Following the completion of the autopsy, Wayne County Medical Examiners have ruled this shoot- ing as a homicide.”There was an entrance shot-gun wound to the face, with no evidence of close-range discharge of a firearm noted on the skin surrounding the wound,” said the medical report.
These three particular cases have indefinite similarity to each other. Each of the victims was possibly targeted and racially profiled which ultimately lead to each of their deaths. Each of these victims gunned down were unarmed African- Americans. It seems as though all charges are either dropped or acquitted after an alleged racial profiling or police brutality case goes to trial. The jury acquitted the four officers charged in the Rodney King case, which sparked a purge of violent riots in April 1992 leading to 55 deaths and roughly 12,000 arrests over a seven-day span. Sean Bell was killed in a hail of 50 bullets fired by NYPD officers in 2006 when exiting a Queens strip club in celebration of his very own bachelor party. In 2008, the three officers responsible for the killing were acquitted. Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American high school student was shot and killed by neighborhood security guard George Zimmerman in what he claimed was self-defense; with the assistance of Florida’s self-defense laws, Zimmerman was a free man. The Ferrell, Brown, and McBride cases are cur- rently undergoing continued investigation.
Members of the NAACP and civil rights advocates continue to rally for the unjust actions and recent trend of police brutality to seek justice. Where can we as college students and voices of the future start locally to advocate change?