What If Jonathan Ferrell were my son?

What if Jonathan Ferrell were my son?
That’s what I thought about when I stopped by the court room
on the first day of the Kerrick trial.
Jonathan – a 24 year old former Florida A&M University football player,
an aspiring engineer, engaged to a beautiful woman.

What if Officer Kerrick were my son?
Officer Randall Kerrick — a 28 year old father of a toddler,
married to his high school sweetheart,
responding to a panicked call from a mother about a break in
and now charged with voluntary manslaughter
for using excessive force that led to Jonathan’s death.
In his eyes, Ferrell was charging at him and his partner
and he feared for their safety.
He had a legal duty to take control of the situation
using force, if necessary, to bring calm.
In his toolbox of options – from verbal commands,
to hands-on use of force, to Taser and gun –
he made his split second decision to act.

What if Jonathan Ferrell were my son?
Jonathan was unarmed. Jonathan was scared.
He had been in a car accident and was seeking help.
If Jonathan were my son,
I’d see him running away from a Taser
not to attack officers but to find safety
yet ending up with 10 bullets in his body.
I’d weep uncontrollably to learn that
he was shot at four times before falling,
six times while crawling on the ground
and two more times once he stopped moving.
I’d wail hearing how he was handcuffed
after he had been shot in the head and body.
I’d be silenced with sorrow and storming with rage
to learn that the police offered Ferrell no medical aid
nor assistance from the EMT who asked them to help.

What if I were a Charlotte citizen?
I’d see a confusion of color –
black skin, blue suits, white skin.
I’d see no color at all,
only tragedy on all sides.

What if Jonathan were my son?
Until we see all victims,
no matter the color of the skin,
as our sons;
until we see all officers,
no matter the color of their skin,
as our brothers or fathers;
then the day will not come
when we will overcome
the racism and inhumanity that divides,
that demeans, that devalues,
and that leads to loss of life.

What if Jonathan Ferrell were my son?
I cannot say
but I can tell you what Jonathan’s mom,
Mrs. Georgia Ferrell, has told me twice.

In witnessing the excruciating painful hearing
she told me, “It may not feel good
but it is for the good.”

May Jonathan’s death lead to good.
May it lead to a change in police training –
so that no other Officer Kerrick is placed on trial
and no other Jonathan’s life is lost.

May it lead to a call for humanity —
a cry for better training for police officers –
not only in using force
but in psychological training
so that they can see, in tense and fearful situations,
the human beings before them
as the human beings they are
as they seek to protect all.

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