Days after Jason Walker, a Black man who was shot and killed by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy last week, attorney Ben Crump spoke at a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, demanding answers for Walker’s death.
Crump, the civil rights attorney who represented the family of George Floyd and has been retained by the Walker family, told a rally at a Fayetteville church that Walker was the single father of a 14-year-old son.
Walker, 37, was killed Saturday near his home in Fayetteville by off-duty Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jeffrey Hash.
“There are a lot of reasons why Black children have to grow up without their fathers,” Crump said. “But this reason is unacceptable. This is unacceptable that we have to tell that young boy that his father was shot unnecessarily, unjustifiably and unconstitutionally by somebody who was supposed to protect and serve him.”
Walker’s loved ones and the rest of the community filled up the benches, cheering unison sometimes and remaining somber others.
“We’re not asking for anything extraordinary,” Crump added. “All we’re asking for is the truth. It is not lost on me that when Jason Walker was shot multiple times, he was close to home,” Crump said.
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A released 911 call from Hash revealed the lieutenant said Walker pulled off his windshield wipers and began beating the windshield, breaking it. I had just had a man jump onto my car and break my windshield. He was just killed. Hash stated that he was a deputy sheriff during the call.
Sheriff Ennis Wright stated that Hash was put on administrative leave paid for Monday while an internal investigation is completed.
Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins requested that a judge grant her request to release the body camera footage taken after the shooting. Hawkins made the request to the courts on Tuesday.
She requested that footage be made public, she said, showing exchanges between Fayetteville cop officers and three witnesses who were present at the scene. According to The Fayetteville Observer part of USA TODAY Network,
Two witnesses have made comments on social media, released a video and spoken at a demonstration, creating “significant public attention,” according to the petition. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons told the Fayetteville Observer that he approved the release “in the interest of justice.”
A North Carolina law that was passed in 2016 makes body- and dashcamera footage not public records. A court can order the release of this footage, but anyone can do so.
Fayetteville police said Monday that a preliminary investigation determined that Walker, 37, “ran into traffic and jumped on a moving vehicle.” Hash shot Walker and then called 911, police said. Walker was immediately declared dead.
Crump questioned Hash’s version of events, saying it doesn’t pass the “common sense test.” Crump asked Hash to explain why Hash chose deadly force over de-escalating.
“He was supposed to be trained to protect and serve lives, not take lives,” Crump said.
Crump said Walker’s family has not been contacted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, which is probing his death. Fayetteville City Council requested the U.S. Department of Justice for review of the case.
Crump stated that Walker’s case must first be heard in court of public opinion. “If we win there, then maybe we can fight in the court of law,” he added.
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Walker’s family members spoke at the pulpit after Crump, some so filled with emotion they were only able to say “thank you” to the community.
“I don’t know what to say about my son,” his father, Anthony Walker, said. “I don’t know what to say. I can’t hardly talk about him.”
Marlowe Walker Walker, his brother, stated that Jason Walker had last spoken to him via the telephone Friday before Walker was murdered. “The last thing he said before he got off the phone was ‘I love you,’” Marlowe Walker said.
He listed a few things his brother loved: gardening, fishing, landscaping, working on computers, music.
Since Walker’s death, demonstrators have been protesting each day. They have demanded justice for Walker and called for Hash to be arrested.
Contributing: Paul Woolverton, Steve DeVane, Kristen Johnson, Jacob Pucci, F.T. Norton; The Fayetteville Observer, The Associated Press