A North Carolina police officer accused of hitting a black man with his truck before shooting him dead has yet to be arrested because ‘evidence is still being collected’, a police chief has revealed as protests entered a third night.
Jason Walker, 37, was shot and killed in broad daylight by off-duty Cumberland County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Jeffrey Hash, at just after 2.15pm on Saturday, in Fayetteville.
Hash was driving in his personal vehicle with his wife and daughter when he claims Walker jumped on his car, tore off his windscreen wipers and began smashing his windshield – later telling a bystander during a 911 call: ‘He jumped on my vehicle. I just had to shoot him.’
But Black Lives Matter activists and a trauma nurse who attended to Walker on the scene have suggested that Hash hit the father-of-one – who leaves behind a young son – with his truck and then shot him dead in cold blood, while noted lawyer Ben Crump, who represents the family of George Floyd, branded the incident a ‘case of a shoot first, ask later philosophy’.
There have now been three straight nights of protests demanding Hash be arrested – with more planned for this week – as Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin and others plead for demonstrators to remain peaceful. While Hash was taken into custody following the shooting, he was not arrested and has been placed on administrative leave.
It comes after Police Chief Gina Hawkins told CBS 17 that initial statements from witnesses, and the physical evidence, including the truck’s black box, do not indicate that Hash hit Walker with his vehicle.
‘Often individuals are not arrested immediately without, with lack of evidence, so right now evidence is being collected by the State Bureau of Investigation to determine that,’ Hawkins said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is now ‘reviewing’ the evidence – including body cam footage – to see if there were any civil rights violations.
Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins said initial statements from witnesses and physical evidence do not indicate that Hash hit Walker with his vehicle as Black Lives Matter protests continue over the incident
Lieutenant Jeffrey Hash (left) was detained and questioned over the Saturday shooting death of Jason Walker (right) in Fayetteville, North Carolina
Hash (left) is seen on the phone with 911 operators in the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Saturday. He claimed that Walker jumped onto the hood of his truck and beat the windshield while his wife and daughter were in the truck
The protests over the incident have entered the third night with many calling on Hash to be arrested
She added that the city council had voted on Monday night for the Department of Justice to get involved in the investigation.
‘I believe that the council just like the rest of the community are hurting because of Mr. Walker’s death, and I believe that request is… to ensure as much transparency as possible,’ Hawkins said.
A 911 call had been released earlier Tuesday during which a frantic Hash told an operator that Walker had jumped on his windshield and he was trying to protect his family when he shot him.
‘I had a male jump on my vehicle and break my windshield. I just shot him,’ Hash told the 911 operator. ‘He jumped on my car.’
As Hash spoke, an angry crowd could be heard forming in the area, demanding to know what happened, and he is heard telling one bystander: ‘He jumped on my vehicle, I just had to shoot him!’
Hash further explained to the 911 operator: ‘He came flying across Bingham Drive, running, and I stopped so I wouldn’t hit him. And he jumped on my car and started screaming, pulls my windshield wipers off and started beating my windshield, broke my windshield, I had my wife and my daughter in my vehicle.’
When the 911 operator asked whether Walker was breathing, Hash responded: ‘No ma’am, he is gone. He is gone ma’am.’
During the call, Hash could also be heard speaking to a trauma nurse on the scene. At one point, she asked him whether he knew where the bullet entry point was, to which he said he did not know.
‘I am just trying to protect my family,’ he is heard saying in the call before it cuts off.
Black Lives Matter activists have suggested that Hash hit Walker with his truck and then shot him dead in cold blood, a version of events shared by a nurse who tried to tend to Walker’s wounds, but which police say the early investigation does not support.
Noted attorney Ben Crump is now representing Walker’s family and said in a statement: ‘We have reason to believe that this was a case of ”shoot first, ask later,” philosophy seen all too often within law enforcement.’
On Tuesday night, demonstrators had gathered for a third time outside Fayetteville’s Transit Authority and chanted: ‘What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now’, while another group of protesters held signs outside the State Capitol in Raleigh.
Local activist Myah Warren called out Chief Hawkins directly, demanding her resignation.
‘Chief, because your men failed to arrest this man on site, he got to sit at his house and watch Sunday night football,’ Warren told USA Today.
‘I’m letting you know right here, right now, your time is up, you gotta go, so go ahead and get ready.’
Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin also sent out a statement asking for protestors to remain peaceful.
‘As a father and an African-American man, I can empathize with what these two families are experiencing during this turbulent time,’ Colvin said.
‘As a city, we must continue to come together, help one another, and look out for those in need.’
Elizabeth Ricks, center, cries as she recounts rendering aid to Jason Walker during a demonstration in front of the Fayetteville Police Department, Sunday. Ricks claims that Hash rammed Walker with his truck and then shot him in cold blood
Pandora Harrington and other demonstrators march from the Cumberland County Law Enforcement Center to the Fayetteville Police Department and back during a ‘Justice for Jason Walker’ demonstration, Sunday
Demonstrators cry during a ‘Justice for Jason Walker’ demonstration in front of the Fayetteville Police Department, Sunday, January 9, 2022, in Fayetteville, N.C. Walker, 37, was shot and killed on Saturday by an off-duty deputy
Hash, was taken into custody after the shooting, but not arrested, and put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Hash phoned 911 after the shooting and told cops he fired at Walker after the man jumped on his truck and began beating the windshield, terrorizing his teenage daughter and wife inside the vehicle, but protesters don’t believe his version of events.
Meanwhile the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began an ‘initial assessment’ of the case, reviewing ‘evidence, statements and body-worn camera’ to determine whether there were potential civil rights violations.
In dramatic video of the shooting aftermath, Hash can be seen telling police that Walker ‘ran across the street so I stopped. He jumped up on the car, started screaming. He broke off my windshield wiper and started beating on the glass.’
‘I have my daughter, my child in here,’ added Hash, pointing toward a person, apparently his daughter who is believed to be in her mid to late teens, sitting in the truck.
At another point he said: ‘I’m going to protect my wife and my child.’
The Fayetteville police chief said that Hash’s version of events was supported by an examination of the truck, which showed that one windshield wiper had been torn off and used to break the windshield in several places, as Hash claimed Walker had done.
However, one alleged eye-witness spoke out in the press and claimed that Walker was simply crossing the road when Hash struck him with his truck and shot him.
Pandora Harrington, right, cries as she holds a sign with an image of Jason Walker during a demonstration on Sunday
Demonstrators march to the Cumberland County Law Enforcement Center during a ‘Justice for Jason Walker’ demonstration, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Fayetteville, N.C. Walker, 37, was shot and killed on Saturday by an off-duty deputy
Demonstrators outside Fayetteville’s Transit Authority last night chanted ‘What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now’. Protesters do not believe Hash and claim that he hit Walker with his truck and then shot him in cold blood
Protesters gathered in Fayetteville in North Carolina for a second night on Monday after Jason Walker, a black man, (pictured) was allegedly shot dead by off-duty cop Lieutenant Jeffrey Hash
Trauma nurse Elizabeth Ricks (bottom right) applies pressure to Walker’s wounds in the immediate aftermath. Ricks claims to have witnessed the shooting, saying that Walker was ‘just walking home’ when Hash hit him with the truck and shot him
Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins said on Monday that a preliminary investigation had found that Walker ‘ran into traffic and jumped on a moving vehicle’ before he was shot.
Hawkins said that investigators examined the black box computer of the truck, which had not recorded any impact with any person or thing.
‘We currently have no witnesses who claim that anyone was hit by this truck,’ she said, claiming that the only eye-witness said Walker was not struck by the vehicle.
Walker, a single father who leaves behind one young son, was pronounced dead on scene.
Police did not disclose how many times or where he was shot but family members said that Walker was shot in the back twice.
Elizabeth Ricks, said she is a trauma nurse who witnessed the incident and applied pressure to Walker’s wound, told the crowd on Sunday that Walker was attempting to cross the street to get to his home when he was struck by the deputy’s truck and then shot.
Ricks told the News & Observer she was on the scene and watched the entire situation unfold. As a healthcare worker, she jumped into action and tried to save Walker’s life.
‘I did not see anyone in distress. The man was just walking home,’ said Ricks. State licensing records show that Ricks is a certified nursing assistant.
At a demonstration on Sunday, Ricks told a crowd of protesters that she tried to save Walker and tried to reassure him that he would be fine as he died before her very eyes.
‘Then he closed his eyes one more time, and kind of did a sigh… and I know he passed that way,’ Ricks said, according to the Fayetteville Observer. ‘It brings me closure that the last thing he heard were positive words and knowing that someone loved him and cared enough to stop by even though I didn’t know him.’
At a demonstration on Sunday, Elizabeth Ricks (center with microphone) told a crowd of protesters that she tried to save Walker and tried to reassured him that he would be fine as he died before her very eyes
Ricks said she gave a statement to police at the scene, but hadn’t been contacted by Fayetteville investigators, and was only contacted by an SBI agent when the state took over the case.
It’s unclear why Ricks’ account directly contradicts Chief Hawkins’ statement that the only actual eye-witness stated that Hash did not run over Walker with his truck.
In video of the shooting’s aftermath, recorded by Rick’s husband, it appears the off-duty deputy had been driving a red truck that was not a law enforcement vehicle.
Hash told police: ‘[Walker] ran across the street, so I stopped. He jumped on my car and started screaming. He broke off my windshield wiper and started beating the glass.’
Hash has served with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office since 2005 and is currently assigned as a Lieutenant in the Civil Section.
His attorney said he would argue self-defense in the case if the shooting came to trial.
Police Chief Hawkins said investigators noted that ‘a windshield wiper was torn off and the metal portion was used to break the windshield of the truck in several places.’
Crump, the walker family attorney, said in a statement: ‘We stand committed, with the family and the young son that Jason Walker left behind, to finding answers as to what happened to him when he was senselessly shot and killed by off-duty deputy Jeffrey Hash.’
‘We look to the North Carolina SBI for a swift and transparent investigation so that we can get justice for Jason and his loved ones.’
Hash (right, with Sheriff Ennis Wright) told investigators at the scene that Walker jumped onto the hood of his truck, ripped off a windshield wiper, and began beating on the windshield with it, terrorizing his daughter who was inside the vehicle
Hash (second from right seated) has served with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office since 2005 and is currently assigned as a Lieutenant in the Civil Section
Hash is seen at a ceremony in 2019 with family members. He said his wife and daughter were in the truck during the shooting
Another group of protesters gathered and held signs outside the outside the State Capitol in Raleigh on Monday night
Protesters gathered in Fayetteville in North Carolina for a second night on Monday after Jason Walker, a black man, was allegedly shot dead by an off-duty cop
Walker, a single father who leaves behind one young son, was pronounced dead on scene
Investigators with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation have taken over the shooting investigation, Fayetteville police said.
Graphic video from the scene shows a burly white man, who people on social media have identified as the deputy, standing by a red pickup truck talking on the phone, while a black man, who they say is Walker, lies on the ground near the back of the vehicle in a puddle of blood.
Sirens are heard in the background as bystanders rush to help Walker and apply pressure to his wound.
‘People are hostile right now,’ the driver, now identified as deputy Hash, says in the video.
‘Nobody is hostile,’ a shirtless black man replies from across the street. ‘Don’t you (expletive) say that.’
‘I don’t know where the entry point is,’ the woman attending to Walker’s wound says. ‘He won’t tell me where he shot him.’
When police arrived on the scene, the driver begins telling his version of the events.
‘I was coming down here,’ the driver is heard telling police. ‘He ran across the street, so I stopped. He jumped on my car, started screaming.’
The driver says Walker then pulled on his windshield and hit the glass. Someone is heard saying that they heard four gunshots.
‘Is he dying?’ a child is heard asking from off-camera.
Investigators have not received any footage of the incident itself but are asking any one with information to step forward.
WRAL-TV spoke with Walker’s family, who described him as a happy go-lucky man with a big heart.
‘I was sad. That’s my best friend. We were really close,’ said cousin Brittany Monroe. ‘It really broke my heart because he would never hurt anyone. I don’t understand how it could happen to him. He would do anything for anybody.’
Demonstrators (pictured on Sunday) outside Fayetteville’s Transit Authority last night chanted ‘What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now’ while another group of protesters held signs outside the State Capitol in Raleigh
Demonstrators also called for the unidentified off-duty deputy to be arrested on Sunday
Another cousin told WRAL that the family is in shock and searching for answers.
‘We’re hearing one side of the story that sounds like a person that Jason is not, and then on the other side, we’re hearing a story that makes complete sense,’ he said.
‘We have to take it one day at a time. Hopefully the system does what’s right and gets to the bottom of this. We really just want justice for Jason.’
Protestors gathered outside the Fayetteville police station Sunday to dispute the account of the deadly incident given by police and call for the off-duty officer to be arrested.
‘When Fayetteville Police arrived they did not disarm the shooter, they did not arrest the shooter, and worst of all they did not render aid to the victim,’ the Fayetteville Activist Movement claimed in a social media post.
On Sunday, Hawkins said the deputy was taken into custody but was not arrested.
Hawkins confirmed that the department is now in possession of the firearm, which she said was not his service weapon.
Hawkins also explained that officers on the scene did not administer medical aid because the civilian who was attending to his wounds was a medical professional.