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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Officer Fires 12 Bullets at Unarmed Man;
Aired September 18, 2013 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Shots were fired. Photos were taken. You'll see it in a moment.
BANFIELD: An unarmed young man gets into a serious car accident and then, when escaping the deadly accident, actually goes looking for help, instead, he was met by 10 gunshots from one police officer's gun. And now this all-American 24-year-old, former football player from Florida A&M University is dead.
Alina Machado is in Charlotte, North Carolina, to explain how this happened.
ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Charlotte police believe Jonathan Ferrell came to this house looking for help after surviving a car crash just down the street. It was Saturday, about 2:30 a.m. The woman inside panicked and called 911.
(BEGIN AUDIO FEED)
CALLER: I need help.
DISPATCHER: Where are you at?
CALLER: There's a guy breaking in my front door.
DISPATCHER: There's a guy breaking in your front door?
CALLER: Yeah, he's trying to kick it down.
(END AUDIO FEED)
MACHADO: The homeowner pleads for help.
(BEGIN VIDEO FEED)
CALLER: He's in the front yard, yelling. Oh, my god, please.
(END VIDEO FEED)
MACHADO: Police say Ferrell was unarmed when he approached the three officers who responded. One of them used a taser to try to subdue Ferrell without success. Police say Officer Randall Kerrick fired 12, 10 hit Ferrell killing him. Dash cam video hasn't been released but an attorney representing the Ferrell family says they have met with police and seen the video from that night.
CHRIS CHESTNUT, FERRELL FAMILY ATTORNEY: You can tell he's unarmed. As he begins to approach the officers, there are immediately two dots, laser beams in the center of his chest. Then he gets excited, he's like wait, wait, wait, stop. He's coming forward and saying, stop, and he goes off camera and you just hear shots, one, two, three, four pause. One, two, three, four, five, six, pause. One, two.
MACHADO: Police say Officer Kerrick told investigators right after the shooting, quote, "The suspect assaulted him by unknown means," and he had, quote, "apparent minor injuries but refused treatment."
Still, police say the shooting was excessive and charged Kerrick with felony voluntary manslaughter.
MICHAEL GREENE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We're confident that the resolution of this case it will be found that Officer Kerrick's actions were justified on the night in question.
MACHADO: Ferrell's mother says she forgives the officer who killed her son.
GEORGIA FERRELL, MOTHER OF JONATHAN FERRELL: I pray for him either and etch day, but I do want justice.
MACHADO: Officer Kerrick is free on a $50,000 bond. At this point it is unclear if police will be releasing that dash cam video. The family attorney says it answers many questions, even though police say you can't actually see the shooting, you can only hear the gunshots -- Ashleigh?
BANFIELD: Alina Machado reporting in Charlotte, North Carolina, thank you for that.
I want to bring in CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, who is a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; also CNN legal analyst and defense attorney, Danny Cevallos.
The charge at this point is voluntary manslaughter. I'm not sure how good you are with North Carolina statute, but what does that mean?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what it means is that it's not a premeditated murder. Voluntary manslaughter you see -- they're called heat-of-passion crimes. Two lovers sometimes gets into a dispute and somebody pulls and gun and fires in the heat of passion as opposed to planning. That's involuntary manslaughter.
BANFIELD: What about self-defense? Is that involuntary manslaughter? That seems to be what many are suggesting his argument is.
CALLAN: You can do as little as nine or ten years in prison on a voluntary manslaughter charge, whereas murder, premeditated murder, would be life.
BANFIELD: Danny, one of the conversations that our news team was having was that it seemed -- we've all been very busy with the naval yard shooting to realize this has only been a matter of 48 hours or so. It seems very, very quick for police officers to be charged. Isn't there usually a very long process of an internal investigation before a charge would be levied?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That would tend to show they may have conclusive evidence. We know there's a dashboard cam we haven't seen.
Here is what you need to know when you talk about North Carolina law. When it comes to officers using deadly force, a court will not look at what we all know to be true, he was unarmed. They'll look at his officer's point at that time. They'll give him deference. The other thing, and people won't like this, is that police were responding to what they believed at the time was a home invasion, a very dangerous felony. And if in their mind it was reasonable that this deadly force was warranted, then this may be a defensible case. What this will come down to is this gentleman's two brother officers, what they will say at trial. If they say they saw the guy go for something in his waistband, that's a flag right there that they're on his side. If they go the other way --
CALLAN: Ashleigh --
BANFIELD: They have to have talked already.
BANFIELD: We've got a police statement saying the evidence revealed Mr. Ferrell did advance on the officer and the investigation showed the subsequent shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive. Our investigation shows that Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge the weapon during the encounter. That's the police saying that.
CALLAN: Your initial question sums it up. Why isn't there a long- time, long-term investigation going on here? The cops obviously think this is an air-tight case. I mean, this guy -- this poor soul was in an accident. He's banging on a door trying to get help. They taser him first and then the reports are they shoot him 12 times. Now, I don't know how much of an investigation you need for that. That sounds like excessive force to me. I think the police think it's a clear-cut case and I can fully understand why he was arrested.
Frankly, I don't care what his fellow officers say. I think he's looking at a conviction in this case or a real rough time putting together a defense.
CEVALLOS: We'll see when they testify. That will tell us. BANFIELD: That's critical. I think the story is definitely not going away. We'll have you back on.
Danny Cevallos, thank you.
Paul Callan, thank you.
BANFIELD: Still to come on "Legal View," a teenager kidnapped from her own home in the middle of the night, and the suspects shoot the family dog and take off with her. Now the nationwide manhunt is under way.
BANFIELD: Now our "Crime & Punishment" story. It was first a photograph published online. Now the story has become a chilling video of a killing caught on surveillance. We're talking about that bizarre Facebook killing that made headlines after a man posted a photo of his dead wife's body online moments after he'd allegedly shot her to death.
Our John Zarrella has more.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jennifer Alfonzo is in the kitchen. She picks up a bottle of dish washing detergent. She won't leave this room alive. The man walking in is her husband, Derek Medina. The video obtained by "The Miami Herald" is silent. Alfonzo is out of frame and Medina's back is to the camera. You can see the top of his head. At one point he walks out and steps back in. It appears he and Alfonzo are exchanging words. Medina leaves, walks down the hall and then returns. You can't see it, but authorities say he has a gun. Alfonzo probably has no idea she is taking her last breaths. In a matter of seconds, she'll be dead.
Both Alfonzo and Medina are off camera now. Police say Medina has told them his wife picked up a knife when he pointed the gun at her. Suddenly, there is a shower of what appears to be flakes, the aftermath of the gunshots. That part of the video is chilling. It gets worse. This is where Medina calmly, in no rush, walks out, perhaps to get his camera phone, comes back to the entrance of the kitchen and appears to take the picture of his dead wife he admits he posted on Facebook.
Take a look at this one more time. Medina is holding something in his hands, likely the camera phone, as he walks to the kitchen entrance and stands there. As he leaves, he puts what looks like a phone in his had pocket. There is never any rush, no sense of urgency to get out of the house. Medina coolly puts on a shirt. A second camera trained on the front door shows him putting on a jacket and baseball cap, walking out, shutting the door behind him.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BANFIELD: Unbelievable.
John Zarrella joining me live from Miami.
First of all, John, it is incredible there is actually surveillance video inside the home. Clearly a security camera meant for their security. But what does this video now mean for the police as they mount a case against Derek Medina?
ZARRELLA: Well, obviously the video becomes part of evidence, Ashleigh. And not just the video but the diary that Alfonzo had been keeping. We obtained a copy of it from the court clerk. Her diary read, "The mind of an insane woman." You know, she talks extensively in here about the relationship she had with Medina. One quick paragraph I'll read: "I know he loves me, and I know I love him. Just wish we had better ways of showing it. When we love each other, it's great. But when we hate each other, we hate" -- capital H-A-T-E -- "each other."
Medina has already pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. But in the state of Florida you have to have a grand jury to indict for first-degree murder. That still could happen because the grand jury was not impaneled at the time of the crime. It is now. So that might still be the case.
We talked to Medina's attorney a few minutes ago. He said, you know, we'll be prepared for whatever we have to face.
BANFIELD: Unbelievable. You just never get that view inside the scene of a killing. It's just remarkable.
John Zarrella, thank you for that.
Coming up, a 14-year-old girl is missing, kidnapped from her own home in the middle of the night. Take a good look at that face. There's an Amber Alert. Here's what's astounding. They tried to get money and jewelry but took her instead. That story coming up.
BANFIELD: The FBI has now joined the manhunt for the kidnappers of a 14-year-old girl in Georgia. The authorities say the suspects who apparently broke into the suburban home in Atlanta before dawn yesterday, that's the picture. That's who they're looking for. Ayvani Hope Perez was inside that home with her mother and a sibling and the family dog. They shot the family dog.
And Martin Savidge picks up the story from there.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, investigators have been working around the clock to try to locate 14-year-old Ayvani Perez. The community there, the subdivision just south of Atlanta is the in shock. They can't believe that a home invasion would happen and that this young girl would be taken from her home in the middle of the night. There is a lot going on here. The FBI has taken the lead. It's a kidnapping, after all, and much they will not talk about, because they know a child's life is on the line here.
But in the community, they're relying on law enforcement and they're relying on faith.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the name of Jesus, we pray to you.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Friends and classmates pray for the safe return of Ayvani hope Perez as a frantic search for the kidnapped teen continued throughout the night. 14-year-old Perez was violently taken from her suburban Atlanta home in the middle of the night.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: They pried the backdoor into the residence.
SAVIDGE: Police say the men forced their way inside and her mother did what she could to spare her two teens.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: She tried to hide the kids, the dog was barking and the suspects shot the dog.
SAVIDGE: The men demanded money and jewelry. When the mother said she didn't have either, authorities say the suspects grabbed Ayvani and fled in a bark blue or gray car.
Now helicopters whoever overhead. Investigation trucks patrol usually quiet streets. And neighbors are shocked.
UNIDENTIFIED NEIGHBOR: It doesn't make sense to me at all.
UNIDENTIFIED NEIGHBOR: I just hope they don't do nothing to her.
SAVIDGE: A suburban sense of security has been shattered, thanks to a new and unexpected resident, fear.
UNIDENTIFIED NEIGHBOR: We thought we lived in a safe neighborhood and now we're not really sure what's going on here.
SAVIDGE: Authorities say they do plan to have an update later today as to how the investigation is going and still encourage the public to come forward.
They still encourage the public to come forward. Anyone who may know the suspects or who have recognized their images or in fact, may have seen the 14-year-old herself, those clues would could be crucial to breaking the case open and bringing her home safely -- Ashleigh?
BANFIELD: Martin Savidge, thank you for that.
Coming up after the break, we have an update to that story we brought you, the breaking news off the top of the newscast. And that is, what's going to happen with military installations across this country now that there's clearly a security problem? Answers in a moment.
BANFIELD: Now on what the federal government is now planning to do in light of what happened at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday after 32- year-old Aaron Alexis killed 12 people before he himself was gunned down. See that headline? "Hagel, we will find those gaps." That's the secretary of defense announcing in fact, more information about what kind of security changes are going to come to installations, military installations around the world, not just here in the United States. But now, we're hearing he's directing his deputy defense secretary, Ashton Carter, to lead a review of DOD procedures. Those procedures involve granting and removing is security clearances including for contractors, Aaron Alexis was a naval contractor. He also said that the review would be conducted in coordination with other government agencies. And then he also announced the formation of an outside panel to look at Department of Defense security and clearance procedures. So now a little bit of direction, some information on who the leader will be and how these changes and security reviews may come about.
Thanks so much for watching. We've had a lot of breaking news today. Good to have you with us on "Legal view." AROUND THE WORLD starts after this break.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: New details about the D.C. Navy Yard gunman. The shooter's mother speaks out for the first time and she says she is glad that he is in a place he can do no longer any harm to anyone.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And a passenger train slams into a double-decker bus in Canada. The front of the bus completely sheered off during impact. We've got a live report on this still breaking story coming up.
MALVEAUX: Plus, zip lining to safety. That is what people are actually doing to escape massive flooding in Mexico. Thousands of tourists are trapped.