CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — The trial of a white former officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man in 2013 was very hard on the department, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said.
He talked with business and civic leaders at a luncheon Wednesday about the impact of Randall Kerrick's trial on his department, The Charlotte Observer reported (http://bit.ly/1QXKJti ). Kerrick's trial began less than a month after Putney was appointed as police chief and raised questions about the department's training and procedures.
"That trial really impacted the CMPD family," Putney said. "It almost ripped us in half. There's still some healing going on around that issue. It caused a significant morale issue."
Kerrick was tried last summer after being charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of Jonathan Ferrell. Kerrick shot Ferrell 10 times the morning of Sept. 14, 2013. Police said Ferrell had crashed his car, and went to a nearby house, apparently seeking help, when the resident called police and officers responded.
Prosecutors said Kerrick ignored his training and acted in fear. Kerrick said he fired as Ferrell aggressively ran toward him.
The trial ended with a deadlocked jury, and the North Carolina Attorney General's Office decided not to re-try the case.
The city ultimately settled with both Ferrell's family and Kerrick. The city gave Kerrick nearly $180,000, most of which was back pay. The city settled with Ferrell's family for $2.25 million.
Putney said the trial also sparked departmental changes. He formed internal and external advisory committees to talk about policies.
The internal committee is composed of about 35 police officers, detectives, sergeants and detectives who help the department determine police policy.
"What I realized pretty quickly from them ... is that they needed to have a say," Putney said. "If they have to actualize what that policy embodies, why don't they get to at least have an influence on what it says. And that was something that was foreign to us. We hadn't really done a lot of that."
Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com