Amid calls for police accountability, North Carolina authorities on Friday released body-camera footage showing the aftermath of the death of Jason Walker, who was shot by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy over the weekend.
Walker, 37, was shot and killed on Saturday by Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Jeffrey Hash after he allegedly jumped on the officer’s car in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Hash, who has been a member of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office since 2005, was off-duty at the time of the shooting, but insisted to police that he responded in self-defense under the state’s stand-your-ground law.
The newly released body-camera video does not show the events leading up to the shooting, but does show eyewitnesses sharing what they saw with Fayetteville Police officers who arrived at the scene
A man who at one point identified himself as the slain man’s father told an officer that Walker jumped onto the hood of Hash’s truck—and in response, the off-duty officer got out of his car and shot him.
“He came out the yard, and I was trying to get him to come back over here, and I said, ‘Come back Jason.’ And he came out in the street,” one man is heard telling police in the video. “He was out here in the...streets when the fella drove up and he jumped up on the guy’s hood, and the guy jumped out and said he was going to shoot.”
When asked by the officer if anyone had recorded the incident, the man said: “I don’t know if anyone recorded the actual shooting, but you can see where he was on the hood. You can see right there, he pulled off one of the....windshield wipers and he hit the windshield.”
At the end of the video, the witness is heard saying “that’s my son,” referring to Walker. The claim Walker jumped on Hash’s hood was reiterated by another witness, who told police that the off-duty deputy jumped out of his car before he opened fire.
A third witness, who identified herself as Elizabeth Ricks, told a responding officer she witnessed the entire situation unfold—and claimed that Walker was already on the ground when Hash shot him.
A trauma nurse, Ricks said that she did not “see anyone in distress” at the time of the shooting, and insisted that Walker “was just walking home.”
“I didn’t see that he posed a threat,” she said, after stating the Hash “just start shooting him.”
The three video clips released Friday are just a small portion of the hours of footage that officers recorded at the scene. A city spokesperson noted in a statement that they represent “the first videos we submitted to the judge.”
“However, the city has filed a petition to have all of the body cam footage released which encompasses about 20 hours of video. Staff will be working as expeditiously as possible to review that video and submit it for the judge’s consideration,” the spokeswoman added.
Cumberland County Sheriff Ennis W. Wright placed Hash on administrative leave on Monday, pending an internal investigation. Prior to his leave, Hash was assigned as a lieutenant in the civil section. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has taken over the investigation, but has yet to charge anyone in the incident, which occurred near the intersection of Bingham Drive and Shenandoah Drive.
The shooting sparked anger across the North Carolina community, and prompted Walker’s family to retain civil-rights attorney Benjamin Crump to learn more about their son’s death.
“We got to stop this vicious cycle in America of shoot first and ask questions later when it's Black people. It's unacceptable,” Crump said during a Thursday rally at a local church. “I tell you brothers and sisters in Fayetteville, North Carolina tonight, that it is the right thing to do, that we speak up for the truth of what happened to Jason Walker, that we fight for the truth of what happened to Jason Walker.”
Also present at the rally was the brother of George Floyd, who was killed in 2020 by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
The release of the body-camera footage—recorded by three Fayetteville Police Department officers who responded to the scene after Walker was shot—was ordered by Judge James Ammons Jr.
The order came after a request from Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins, who noted the video also contain statements from at least three witnesses at the scene. North Carolina law dictates that law enforcement agency recordings can only be released to the public after a petition to the court from an official.
The request came after police said a preliminary investigation shows Walker “ran into traffic and jumped on [the] moving vehicle” that Hash was driving on Saturday afternoon.
“The driver of the vehicle shot [Walker] and notified 911,” the Fayetteville police said in a Saturday statement.
In the nearly four-minute 911 call, Hash insisted to an emergency dispatcher that a man had jumped on his car and broken his windshield.
“I just shot him. He jumped on my vehicle. I just had to shoot him,” Hash said in the call, later identifying himself as a sheriff’s lieutenant. “I stopped so I wouldn’t hit him and he jumped on my car and started screaming; pulled my windshield wipers off, and started beating my windshield and broke my windshield. I had my wife and my daughter in my vehicle.”
Shortly after, a witness posted a video of the incident on social media—showing a man standing near the driver’s side of a red pickup truck while talking on his cellphone. Next to him is another man on the ground, who appears to be bleeding, and two others trying to officer aid.
Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here