Live Updates: Ben Crump, family of Jason Walker hold rally at Fayetteville church

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  • Benjamin Crump
    Benjamin Crump
    American jurist
Nationally known civil rights attorney Ben Crump and the family of Jason Walker address the media during a rally at Deep Creek Baptist Church.
Nationally known civil rights attorney Ben Crump and the family of Jason Walker address the media during a rally at Deep Creek Baptist Church.

Civil rights and personal injury lawyer Ben Crump is holding a press conference with the family of Jason Walker at Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville.

Walker was killed Saturday near his home on Bingham Drive. He was shot by an off-duty sheriff's duty who was later identified by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office on Monday as Lt. Jeffrey Hash.

Demonstrators have protested each day since Walker was killed. They have demanded justice for Walker and called for Hash to be arrested.

The Fayetteville Police Department was initially called to the scene of the shooting, but Police Chief Gina Hawkins has turned the investigation over to the State Bureau of Investigation. The Fayetteville City Council has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review the case.

Here are live updates from the rally with Crump and the family.

Keeping the pressure on

Crump said Walker’s family has not been contacted by the State Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating his death.

When Crump was asked about a report that Hash plans to say the shooting was in self defense, he referenced the case of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was shot and killed while jogging.

“They said the same thing about Ahmaud Arbery,” he said.

Arbery’s killers were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Crump said he wants to keep the pressure on authorities. He said the case has to be fought first in the court of public opinion.

“If we win there, then maybe we can fight in the court of law,” he said.

'I can't talk about it'

Several members of Walker’s family spoke to the crowd.

His mother, Janice Walker, thanked everyone for their prayers. His father, Anthony Walker, could hardly speak.

“I don’t know what to say,” he said. “I can’t talk about it.”

Walker’s brothers said he had a loving heart and helped people. He loved gardening, fishing and landscaping, they said.

Two systems of justice

Crump said that it’s time to end what he called the two justice systems in the United States. He mentioned several high profile cases where Black people were killed by white people and asked what would have happened if the roles were reversed.

Crump called for the release of information from the autopsy report. He said the community wants accountability and justice.

“We want equal justice for Jason Walker,” he said.

The right thing to do

Crump said he was born and raised in Lumberton, which is about 45 miles south of Fayetteville. He said he is near his home.

“It is not lost on me that when Jason Walker was shot multiple times, he was close to home,” he said.

Crump said knowing that Walker was close to home is painful for Walker’s family.

“You think when you’re at home, you’re safe, you’re secure,” he said.

Crump also noted that the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. is this weekend. King said that instead of asking what is popular, ask what is right.

“It is the right thing to do to speak up for the truth of what happened to Jason Walker,” Crump said.

A higher authority involved

Crump, who sounded more like a preacher than a lawyer at times, said there is a higher authority who is involved.

“He’s God almighty,” Crump said. “He sits high and looks low.”

Crump called for God to help lead to the truth of what happened.

Crump said George Floyd’s brother and nephew were at the church to stand with Walker’s family.

“They know that a threat anywhere is a threat everywhere,” Crump said.

Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes. Crump represented Floyd’s family.

Questions need to be answered

Crump called attention to Hash’s law enforcement training. Hash should have trained him to protect the public, Crump said.

Crump asked why Hash used deadly force rather than de-escalate the situation.

“These are the questions that need to be answered,” he said.

Comfort for the heartbroken

Crump started by saying he was looking at Walker’s brothers, mother, father, aunt and uncle seated at the front of the church.

“They seem so heartbroken and lonely,” he said.

Crump asked those attending to stand and let the family know they are not alone. He led the crowd to chant, “Jason Walker matters.”

Crump called attention to prominent leaders and told them that “but for the grace of God” the press conference could be about their son, brother or father.

Press conference starts with prayer and Bible reading

The press conference started with a prayer asking for wisdom, love, strength and peace. “Amen,” could be heard over and over during the prayer, which was followed by clapping.

A Bible reading from Psalm 27 followed the prayer. “Trust in the Lord and do good,” the psalm said in part. The passage also called for resting in the Lord and waiting patiently for him.

“Depart from evil and do good. … The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell therein forever,” the psalm said.

Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin, City Councilman Chris Davis and Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans are in attendance.

Fayetteville police to release bodycam footage

A few minutes before the press conference started, Fayetteville officials released a statement regarding body camera footage taken while police officers were interviewing witnesses after the shooting. Police Chief Gina Hawkins’s request that the footage be release was granted earlier today by a Superior Court judge.

More reporting: Judge OKs release of 3 police videos in Jason Walker homicide, PD seeks to release more

“In the interest of transparency, the City of Fayetteville sought and received approval from the Superior Court for the release of body camera footage related to the death of Mr. Jason Walker and we are now in receipt of the order to do so,” a statement released by Fayetteville officials said. “We’re working swiftly to comply and will have additional information available tomorrow morning about how soon video footage can be made public.”

This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Family of Jason Walker, Ben Crump hold rally at Fayetteville church

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