Almost two years after the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and media outlets are still running with “well the police said” as an automatic default without question. This is particularly important in cases where someone with connections to law enforcement commits a crime, like the recent killing of Jason Walker by an off-duty Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputy in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Fayetteville Police have been criticized by the community for seeming to immediately accept the version of events provided by the deputy. As reported by local news outlet WRAL, family members said the police narrative did not sound like Walker.
WRAL reported that police claim the 37-year-old Walker was crossing the street on Sunday and at some point jumped on the deputy’s vehicle.
However, law enforcement officials later on Sunday said the on-board computer in the unidentified off-duty deputy’s truck did not show any evidence of a collision with “any person or thing,” according to the local ABC News affiliate. That finding suggests the off-duty deputy was lying about the nature of his encounter with Walker.
Elizabeth Ricks, the woman who rendered aid to Walker after he was shot, told the outlet she watched the entire scene unfold.
“I did not see anyone in distress. The man was just walking home,” Ricks said.
TikTok user ARonUNC pointed to Facebook posts from Ricks (who goes by Ellie Ash online) and Chase Holden Sorrell challenging the police’s official version of events.
The below video contains graphic footage, please watch it with discretion.
In their respective posts, the couple shared accounts of what transpired, never once mentioning Walker “jump,” or otherwise intentionally damaging the deputy’s car.
According to Ricks’ since-deleted post, Walker was crossing the road when the deputy hit him and then shot him after he landed on the hood of his car. She also didn’t believe the deputy was acting in defense of his family.
Sorrell shared he wanted to expose the officer’s actions and help get justice for Walker.
“There was absolutely no reason this officer should have shot this man in the back after hitting him with his truck,” Sorrell wrote.
Trigger Warning: Sorrell’s post contains video footage of the aftermath of the shooting with Walker lying motionless on the ground.
Even if it were true that Walker intentionally caused damage to the deputy’s truck, that should not justify killing him. Self-defense as an excuse from legal accountability doesn’t extend to just any situation when a person thinks they have the right to shoot someone else.
During a briefing, Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins said the deputy was taken into custody and questioned but had not been placed under arrest. Allegedly the pickup truck’s “black box” showed no evidence of a collision but there was damage to a window and a windshield wiper came off the truck.
The incident comes less than a week after another Black man, Stephen Addison was murdered by a white driver Roger Nobles in a road rage incident. Unlike the unnamed deputy who killed Walker, Nobles has been charged with murder.
A GoFundMe created for Walker’s funeral was also shared on Sunday.