The family of an unarmed Black man who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in North Carolina over the weekend has retained the legal services of civil rights attorney Ben Crump as they demand justice for the shooting that took place under questionable circumstances.
Eyewitnesses say Jason Walker, 37, was crossing a street when off-duty Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey Hash used the truck he was driving to hit the pedestrian before getting out and shooting him to death on Saturday in the city of Fayetteville. But the police narrative has seemingly already accepted Hash’s version of events that allege Walker jumped on the deputy’s vehicle.
Either way, it remains unclear why Hash felt the need to draw his gun and shoot Walker to death.
In a press release emailed to NewsOne, Crump said in a statement that he believes Hash acted hastily without knowing all the facts.
“We stand committed, with the family and the young son that Jason Walker left behind, to finding answers as to what happened to him when he was senselessly shot and killed by off-duty deputy Jeffrey Hash,” Crump said. “We have reason to believe that this was a case of ‘shoot first, ask later,’ a philosophy seen all too often within law enforcement.”
North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) is investigating the shooting while Hash has been placed on administrative leave, but he has neither been criminally charged not fired for the shooting. The press release from Crump’s asked bluntly: “[W]as Mr. Walker shot in the back as he tried to return home?”
Crump said he was looking to “SBI for a swift and transparent investigation so that we can get justice for Jason and his loved ones.”
Local news outlet WRAL reported that Walker’s family members said the police narrative did not sound like the person they knew. Law enforcement officials said Sunday that the on-board computer in Hash’s truck did not show any evidence of a collision with “any person or thing,” according to the local ABC News affiliate, suggesting he was lying about the nature of his encounter with Walker, whose parents lived about 100 yards from where he was slain.
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.
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.
A GoFundMe created for Walker’s funeral was also shared on Sunday. As of late Tuesday morning, just more than $2,500 of a $50,000 goal had been donated.
Walker shooting came less than a week after a suspected white supremacist shot and killed a Black driver in an apparent fit of road rage, also in Fayetteville. In that case, Roger Dale Nobles — who does not have the privilege of being a police officer — was arrested and charged with the first-degree murder of 32-year-old Stephen Addison.
This is America.