Witnesses: Jason Walker jumped onto deputy's truck hood before fatal shooting in Fayetteville
Fayetteville police released some bodycam footage Friday collected after officers arrived on the scene where an off-duty sheriff's deputy shot Jason Walker, a Black man.
The footage shows a witness largely corroborating what the deputy told 911 operators.
In the footage, a man identifies Walker as his son, and tells a police officer that Walker ran in the road, jumped on the hood of a truck, tore off a windshield wiper and used it to hit the windshield.
“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,” the witness says, holding a cell phone and motioning toward where Walker crossed the street. “He was out here in the daggone 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."
Walker was shot last Saturday by Jeffrey Hash, a white Cumberland County sheriff's deputy who was off duty at the time. The eyewitness account largely matches what Hash told 911 operators.
“I was driving down the road and he came flying across Bingham Drive running,” Hash tells the 911 operator. “And then I stopped so (he) wouldn't hit me, and he jumped on my car and started screaming.”
Hash’s wife and daughter were also in the car.
In one of the recordings, which lasts 49 seconds, multiple people tell a police officer they saw or heard something when Hash shot Walker.
“That fellow jumped up on the hood and he jumped out his car and shot him,” one man says of Walker and Hash.
Another man says he heard four gunshots, while a woman is heard asking about an entry wound.
In response to a question from the officer, the self-identified father of Walker said he didn’t know if his son had any mental health issues.
In a third, nearly three-minute-long video, a woman who identifies herself as trauma nurse Elizabeth Ricks says she treated Walker at the scene. Ricks acknowledges that she “didn’t see it all happen,” but adds, referring to Walker, “I didn’t see him pose a threat."
“He didn’t have anything on him, or anything like that,” Ricks says. “I don’t know if he was mentally unwell or anything."
Ricks adds that when she reached the scene, she heard Hash say he was trying to protect his family.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is representing Walker's family. At a vigil on Thursday night, he spoke at a Fayetteville church saying that it should have been a trained officer’s duty to de-escalate the situation.
“He was supposed to be trained to protect and serve life, not to take life,” Crump said. "He was supposed to be trained to deescalate situations, not escalate situations. And so, what was it about that training that didn’t apply on that particular day?”
Crump previously represented the family of George Floyd, and was part of the gaggle of attorneys that were in Elizabeth City, North Carolina last April on behalf of the family of Andrew Brown Jr. On Thursday, Floyd’s brother and nephew attended a rally for Walker that Crump spoke at.
Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins petitioned the court to release the body camera footage.
Fayetteville Police are reviewing the rest of the approximately 20 hours of video recorded and will submit another request to the court to release it. Under a North Carolina law passed in 2016, body and dash camera footage is not public record. Police camera footage is released only after a judge’s order.
Protesters are expected to march the streets of Fayetteville again on Friday night. Kathy Greggs is the co-founder and president of the advocacy group Fayetteville PACT – or the “Police Accountability Community Taskforce.” She has been pushing for citizen review boards who can review these incidents and make recommendations.
“And they can make a determination, independent and away from internal affairs, if violations happen with the police and decide reprimands,” Greggs said.
The State Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation. It will turn all evidence over to the local district attorney, who will decide whether or not to bring any charges.
Walker leaves behind a 14-year-old son.
WUNC Digital Producer Mitchell Northam contributed to this report.