Moments after fatally shooting Jason Walker, a 37-year-old Black man who allegedly jumped on his car and broke through his windshield, an off-duty North Carolina cop told a 911 dispatcher that he had no other choice.
“He jumped on my vehicle. I just had to shoot him,” Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey Hash said in a 911 call released to the public by the city of Fayetteville Tuesday evening and first reported by the Fayetteville Observer. “I stopped so that I wouldn’t hit him, and then he jumped on my car and started screaming.”
But at least one eyewitness, a trauma nurse who helped Walker in his final moments, said at a protest Sunday that the officer hit the Black man with his car, not the other way around.
“He was not acting crazy. He didn’t jump in traffic. That officer—murderer—shot him, hit him with his car,” Elizabeth Ricks told the crowd. “How would Jason jump on a big truck? Explain that to me.”
The shooting is being investigated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations and has been the subject of protests in front of the Fayetteville Police Department, which responded to the Jan. 8 shooting.
Hash shot Walker as he ran across a residential street near his home in Fayetteville shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday. According to Hash’s account, Walker ran across the street, forcing him to stop, at which point Walker jumped on Hash’s Ford F-150 pickup truck. Hash says Walker then pulled at his windshield wipers and began beating the windshield, which eventually shattered.
Fearing for his daughter and wife, who were in the vehicle at the time, Hash fired his gun.
Video that circulated on social media over the weekend shows a chaotic scene just moments after the shooting: Walker lies in the street bleeding out next to Hash’s truck as at least six people gather around the scene. Hash is on the phone as officers arrive on the scene right at the start of the video.
People in the video say they heard at least four shots. Police, however, have not shared with the public how many times Walker was shot or what weapon was used.
At one point in the video, Hash says that people are hostile, and the crowd rejects it.
“Don’t you fucking say that, nobody’s hostile,” one man says as sirens blare in the background.
In the 911 call, the dispatcher talks Hash and others through providing Walker with medical help. Witnesses also ask Hash where he shot Walker, presumably to find his wounds.
“I don’t know!” he says. “He jumped on my car!”
“We don’t care about that,” someone responds. “Where is the entry point?”
Hash, who’s been with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office since 2005 and holds the rank of lieutenant, was taken into custody sometime after officers showed up on the scene, according to Fayetteville police. Police Chief Gina Hawkins clarified that Hash was not arrested on Saturday and was only taken in to provide a statement on the shooting. He’s since been placed on paid administrative leave pending the internal investigation, according to Sheriff Ennis Wright.
Parrish Daughtry, an attorney representing Hash, told USA Today that her client was devastated by Saturday’s shooting but could not comment further on the ongoing investigation.
In its preliminary investigation, Fayetteville police concluded a similar account to what Hash told them. Hawkins told reporters during a press conference Tuesday that the black box of Hash’s Ford truck did not record an impact with any person or thing. None of the witnesses who spoke to police at the scene say they saw the moments before the shooting, according to police.
When contacted by VICE News Tuesday, both the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation and the Fayetteville Police Department declined to comment further on the shooting and the ongoing investigation.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump announced Tuesday that he will represent Walker’s family and questioned the circumstances of the shooting.
“We have reason to believe that this was a case of ‘Shoot first, ask later,’ a philosophy seen all too often with law enforcement,” Crump said.
Fayetteville protestors, marching for justice in Walker’s death, are demanding for Hash to be arrested and charged in the shooting, according to the Fayetteville Observer. They also want him to resign from the sheriff’s office.
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