It’s the wee hours of the morning and you hit a tree. The wreck is so bad that the only way out is through a back window. Thank God you manage to survive and pull yourself out of the wreckage. PAUSE, don’t think God just yet. This is how the story of Jonathan Ferrell’s death begins.
The former Florida A&M football player defied the odds of escaping a car accident without any broken limbs. Only to be shot by police officers while trying to find help. The story goes that after Jonathan escaped the wreckage he knocked on the door of a nearby home looking for help. The woman who opened the door, confronted by a young black male at her door at 2:30 AM, immediately assumed he was suspicious and thus called the police.
She didn’t give Jonathan a chance to explain himself. She didn’t take a moment to consider what could have a young man so frantic at that hour. The police arrived on the scene, in response to a breaking and entering call, and didn’t give Jonathan a chance to explain himself. They claim Jonathan ran towards them.
So they attempted to stop him with a Taser. Probably still riding off the adrenaline from the wreck, Jonathan resists the shock from the Taser and continues to push threw, desperately in need of medical attention. Officer Randall Kerrick responds to this with several shots that end Jonathan’s life. When all Jonathan wanted was assistance. It never crossed anyone’s mind that Jonathan was in need, that they should respond to him as a citizen.
Why couldn’t they see him as a person worthy of consideration and protection. They saw his black skin and youth and made assumptions. That led to choices, actions that will not be undone. At least in this case officer Randall Kerrick is being charged with voluntary manslaughter. But still, what does that do to bring back Jonathan? Nothing. Yes, it’s important that officers are being held accountable for their reckless actions. Yet, this alone is not enough to change the culture and ideologies that equates blackness with criminality. Until this is done black people’s life will continue to hang in the balance.
The saddest, and most ironic, part of this is that Jonathan was able to beat mother nature, to only fall at the hands of the system. Look at how our institutions work, they always seem to get the last laugh.