Jason Walker was fatally shot during a road incident in the city of North Carolina by an off-duty off-duty; Judge grants release of police body camera footage.
Protesters rallied in a North Carolina city when a U.S. judge granted the release of police camera footage showing the aftermath of the murder of Jason Walker, an unarmed black man arrested by a police officer was shot off duty.
Family members of Walker and residents of Fayetteville gathered in the city on Thursday to demand justice in Saturday’s murder, with slogans such as “Jason Walker matters”.
Civil Rights Advocate Benjamin Crump, who represented the families of other unarmed black people killed by police in recent years, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, promised to get to the bottom of the murder.
“The truth will be revealed to Jason Walker,” said Crump, who organized the rally.
The circumstances surrounding Walker’s murder remain unclear.
Jeffrey Hash, the police officer on duty who shot Walker, was driving his vehicle with his wife and daughter when they approached Walker, an unarmed 37-year-old Black man who was crossing the street near his parental home.
Moments later, Hash opened fire, and soon Walker lay dead from gunshot wounds.
In an amateur video filmed shortly after the shooting and posted online, Hash explains to fellow officers who were called to the scene that Walker jumped into the middle of the street and that he hit the brakes to avoid him.
Hash said Walker then threw himself at the vehicle, tore off a windshield wiper and used it to hit the windshield, which he said prompted him to pull out his weapon and jump on fire to protect his family.
Witnesses offered a different version, saying Hash had hit Walker with his vehicle before stopping.
“I saw him brake, stop completely, and then keep going,” Elizabeth Ricks told an ABC station. “I saw him hit Jason… then his body was hit in the windshield.”
Ricks said she then heard shots being fired.
“I think he fired the first shot through the windshield and three more times outside the vehicle,” she added.
Police said Hash’s black pickup truck had no visible dents and Walker’s body showed no signs of impact other than bullet wounds.
Hash was placed on administrative leave but was not arrested or charged with a crime. State investigators have launched an investigation into the murder.
A judge on Thursday granted a petition by Fayetteville police chief Gina Hawkins to release footage in public that, according to her exchanges between Fayetteville police officers and three witnesses, would show up at the scene of the shooting. Fayetteville Observer reported.
Crump said Thursday night the family and the wider Fayetteville community are demanding to know why Walker was “senselessly shot and killed” by an off-duty officer.
“We have reason to believe that this was a case of ‘shoot first, ask later’, a philosophy that is all too often seen in law enforcement,” Crump said in a statement earlier in the day.
Widespread racial justice protests erupted across the U.S. in 2020 following the murder of Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A police officer was later charged with murder and sentence to 22-and-a-half years in prison, in a rare prosecution by a law enforcement officer in an incident at work.
Intermittent protests have continued across the U.S. over other high-profile killings of unarmed black people, with many advocates calling for broader federal reforms to policing.