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Mistrial Declared In N.C. Trial Of White Officer Who Shot Unarmed Black Man

Gidget Bell (right), of Charlotte, joins other protesters in shutting down Fourth Street after a mistrial was declared in Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick's trial.

Following four days of jury deliberations, a North Carolina judge declared a mistrial Friday in the case of a white police officer charged with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed black man.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick faced up to 11 years in prison for his role in the death of Jonathan Ferrell, a former Florida A&M football player two years ago.

A racially diverse jury informed the judge late Friday afternoon that despite deliberating for 19 hours, jurors were not able to move past an 8 to 4 split and they saw no possibility of reaching a unanimous verdict.

The Charlotte Observer reports a person close to the case said eight jurors leaned toward acquitting the officer and four favored a conviction.

"Within moments, about a dozen protesters, whites and blacks, lay down with hands behind their backs and blocked traffic outside the courthouse on Fourth Street, chanting 'No justice, no peace.' "

At issue in the case was whether Kerrick was justified when he fired 12 rounds at Ferrell, 10 of which hit him. Kerrick testified he kept firing his weapon because Ferrell kept charging at him on the morning of Sept. 14, 2013.

As Gwendolyn Glenn of member station WFAE reported on NPR's Morning Edition earlier this month, Ferrell was an aspiring engineer and had been involved in an auto accident. He then knocked on the door of a woman who assumed the worst.

"Police believe he needed help when he knocked on the door. Three officers responded to the 911 call. It's not clear what happened, but Kerrick fired 12 shots, hitting Ferrell 10 times. The other officers didn't shoot at all. Charlotte police acted quickly. They arrested Kerrick that day and charged him with voluntary manslaughter."

The Associated Press reports that prosecutors said they will review the case and decide whether to retry it.

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