Candles flickered in the cold Wednesday evening as flowers were placed in the area where Jason Walker took his final breaths.
The fourth night of protests over Walker's death in Fayetteville turned more somber, as community members brought flowers, signs and candles to show their respects to the Walker family in their time of grief.
Walker, 37, an unarmed Black man, was shot and killed by an off-duty Cumberland County deputy Saturday afternoon in front of his home on Bingham Drive.
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department on Monday identified the shooter as Lt. Jeffrey Hash.
Protesters are calling for Hash's arrest.
Before heading toward Walker’s home, family and friends told the crowd they appreciated the support and talked about who Walker was.
Call for justice
Shaun McMillian, a member of the Fayetteville Police Accountability Community Taskforce that helped organize Wednesday night’s protest, reiterated that Walker was unarmed when shot by Hash.
McMillian said Walker’s family is “distraught, deservedly so,” because Hash has not been arrested.
“We’re going to keep coming together until an arrest is made,” McMillian said.
In a video taken by passerby Chase Sorrell in the aftermath of the shooting, Hash told a Fayetteville police officer that Walker jumped onto the hood of his pickup, pulled off the windshield wiper and began beating on the windshield.
Sorrell's girlfriend, Elizabeth Ricks, said she tried to help Walker.
During a news conference Sunday, Police Chief Gina Hawkins said a black box in Hash's truck did not register hitting "any person or thing" and the only injuries to his Walker's body were gunshot wounds.
North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident leading up to Walker’s death.
Hash is on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. No charges have been filed in the case.
National civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump has been retained to represent the family and will hold a news conference Friday at the Cumberland County Courthouse, 117 Dick St.
Crump issued a statement responding to statements made by Ricks.
“The fact that a civilian was the only person that rendered aid to Jason as he took his last breath is horrifying,” Crump said. “It is apparent by Ms. Ricks’ accounts that the off-duty officer who was involved in this incident, as well as the officers who responded to the incident, were self-interested and concerned about obscuring how the public would see this killing, rather than concerned for Jason in his final moments.”
City officials respond
Fayetteville officials are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to review the city’s response to the shooting.
The request came in a letter City Manager Doug Hewett sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Michael F. Easley Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Hewett also asked the department and the FBI “to review all of the facts and circumstances of this tragedy to determine whether any involvement or investigation from the Department of Justice is warranted.”
Fayetteville officials have “full faith” that the State Bureau of Investigation will thoroughly investigate the death, Hewett said.
“However, members of City Council believe strongly that your department’s involvement or assistance with any investigation will help our citizens trust that the investigation will be both thorough and transparent,” he said.
The letter also says city officials request and welcome a review of the city’s response and policies.
“While I have the utmost confidence in our Police Department, I understand a review of this tragic incident may help our community during this difficult time as we await the results of the independent investigation,” Hewett said.
The letter, which is dated Wednesday, was included in a statement released that day by three members of the City Council.
In their statement, Councilwoman Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, Councilwoman Shakeyla M. Ingram, and Councilwoman Yvonne Y. Kinston extended condolences to the Walker family. They said acknowledged Hawkins for asking the SBI to take the lead on the investigation and noted that the council had asked Hewett to contact the Department of Justice.
“We want to strongly reflect and ensure to our citizens that we are responding to their concerns on these tragic events and our hearts ache with you as we are not only leaders of this city, but neighbors that live in this city with you,” they said. “We all are doing our job to ensure all answers and evidence are presented and will support the SBI in any way we can during this investigation as they are now the lead investigators.”
Two of those who spoke at the protest said they were distantly related to Walker, but thought of him as an uncle and father figure. They said friends, family and the community have to be Walker’s voice.
Local resident Loretta Daniels said she knew Walker for about five years and spoke about his kindness.
Daniels said when she survived two cardiac arrests in April, Walker was there for her through her recovery.
She said Walker would go to her parent’s house and help with yard work.
She described Walker as “loving, kind, supportive and genuine” and said that he was a good father.
“He had a sound mind. He was courageous. He was kind. He would give you the shirt off of his back,” Daniels said.
Mo said the family appreciates the support of the community, even if they did not know Walker.
“We have to be Jason’s voice, and we really do have to change the narrative,” she said.
Though protestors marched and chanted for justice on Bingham Drive Wednesday night, they respectfully became quiet the closer they got to Walker’s home, where there was a larger crowd.
Music that played during the march was turned off as a prayer was said on Walker's behalf.
Staff writer Rachael Riley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-486-3528.
Local news editor Steve Devane contributed to this report.
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This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Jason Walker death: Family, friends describe man shot by NC deputy