While the city of Charlotte announced Thursday that it had settled the lawsuit over the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell, the criminal trial against the police officer accused of the killing still looms.
As does this question: Will the $2.25 million the city agreed to pay Ferrell’s family influence the jurors deciding the manslaughter case against Officer Randall Kerrick?
“Even though there is no admission of liability by the city, the common perception will be that that they wouldn’t have paid this amount of money if they haven’t had some responsibility,” said James Wyatt, a prominent Charlotte defense attorney not connected to the case.
Any mention of the agreement likely won’t be admissible during the criminal trial, Wyatt said. But most of Kerrick’s potential jurors almost certainly will know about it going in.
In announcing the settlement, Mayor Dan Clodfelter, an attorney, mostly sidestepped its impact on the criminal proceedings, which could put the city under a national spotlight when the trial begins July 20.
For now, Clodfelter said, the city should be thankful it has avoided the violent reactions to police killings in Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo., and other cities.
“Things could have happened differently,” the mayor said. “Instead the events surrounding the case prompted an open, candid and wide-ranging community dialogue about difficult issues.”