• Police fatally shot Jonathan Ferrell after woman called 911 to report home invasion
  • A civil lawsuit will be filed by the 24-year-old's family against several parties, attorneys say
  • Ferrell had been involved in a serious wreck a block away and was seeking help, attorney says
  • Fiancee called Ferrell "Sweets" and said he made people smile, cared for others

By Ed Payne

Attorneys for the family of a former Florida A&M football player fatally shot by police in Charlotte, North Carolina, will announce on Tuesday that they have filed a civil lawsuit against several parties connected to his death, a statement from the lawyers said.

The details of the lawsuit will be revealed at an 11 a.m. ET news conference.

Officer Randall Kerrick shot an unarmed Jonathan Ferrell, 24, in September after a woman -- home alone with her 1-year-old child -- called 911 and reported that someone was trying to break down her front door.

Back in October, family attorney Chris Chestnut accused Kerrick of "cold-blooded murder," saying the incident was caught on a dashboard camera of a police cruiser at the scene. Ferrell was involved in a serious wreck a block away and was only seeking help, according to Chestnut.

Kerrick has been charged with felony voluntary manslaughter, meaning he is accused of either using excessive force in self-defense or shooting Ferrell without the intent to kill him. He is free on $50,000 bond.

"We are confident that at the resolution of this case, it will be found that Officer Kerrick's actions were justified on the night in question," his attorney, Michael Greene, said in September.

Police investigation

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has called the shooting unlawful.

"The evidence revealed that Mr. Ferrell did advance on Officer Kerrick and the investigation showed that the subsequent shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive," police said in a statement on September 14, the day of the shooting. "Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter."

The statement further said, "It has devastated a family as well as caused a great deal of sadness and anxiety in our organization."

Police used the words "charged," "ran" and "advanced" in describing Ferrell's interaction with police. But Chestnut said the young man merely walked "briskly" toward them and surmised that Ferrell was relieved police had arrived to help him after he wrecked his car.

An officer tried to subdue Ferrell with a stun gun but was "unsuccessful," police have said. Kerrick opened fire after that.

His fiancee called him "Sweets"

Family members have said Ferrell was a happy, outgoing guy, who loved Winnie the Pooh as a child.

The former gymnast, football player and FAMU chemistry major was working two jobs at the time of the shooting, his mother, Georgia, has said.

His fiancee, Cache Heidel, told CNN in October that Ferrell had been out with friends the night he was shot.

She described Ferrell as someone who was always joking and finding ways to make people smile. His demeanor was so gentle and caring, she said, that she nicknamed him "Sweets."

"He's always a joy to be around. He cared so much for other people, more so than himself," she said.

She said she hopes Kerrick is convicted and that her fiance's death will spur dialogue across the nation.

"That is a hope I have, that his death will resound for a country that prides itself on being diverse and inclusive and accepting everyone for who they are," she said.


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