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Case of N.C. cop who killed an unarmed man headed to grand jury

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - Prosecutors will seek an indictment against a North Carolina police officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed man 10 times after he survived a car accident and banged on the door of a nearby house in the middle of the night looking for help.

The officer, Randall Kerrick, 27, is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the September 14 shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, a 24-year-old former Florida A&M University football player.

The North Carolina Attorney General's office said in a statement the case against Kerrick, who was suspended after the shooting, will go before a grand jury on January 21.

Prosecutors reached their decision after investigations by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and North Carolina's State Bureau of Investigation, the statement said.

According to police, Ferrell, who was black, wrecked his car in the woods late at night and then walked to a nearby house in a predominantly white neighborhood trying to find help.

But a woman who answered the door at the house thought Ferrell was a burglar and called police saying he began knocking insistently on her front door at 2:30 a.m., according to police.

Kerrick, who is white, and two other officers eventually arrived at the house. They found Ferrell a short distance away when police said he began to run toward them. One officer unsuccessfully fired a Taser at Ferrell, police said.

Kerrick then fired his gun 12 times, hitting Ferrell 10 times.

The racial overtones of the case have spawned outrage among civil rights advocates.

Police have described Kerrick's response as "excessive." His attorneys argue his actions were justified.

Ferrell, who was listed on the Florida A&M roster during the 2009 and 2010 seasons as a safety, had recently moved to Charlotte with his fiancée, his lawyers have said.

Ferrell's family is expected to announce plans to file a civil lawsuit on Tuesday against Kerrick, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the Police Chief and the City of Charlotte, according to a spokesman for the family's lawyer.

(Additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Writing by Kevin Gray. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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