Jason Walker was shot by an off-duty officer in a traffic accident in the North Carolina town; judge grants release of police body camera footage.
Protesters gathered in a North Carolina town as a US judge cleared the release of police body camera footage showing the aftermath of the murder of Jason Walker, an unarmed black man who was shot dead by a policeman on leave.
Relatives of Walker and Fayetteville residents gathered in the city on Thursday to demand justice in Saturday’s murder, chanting slogans such as “Jason Walker matters.”
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has represented the families of other unarmed black people killed by police in recent years, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, has vowed to get to the bottom of it.
“The truth will come out for Jason Walker,” said Crump, who organized the rally.
The circumstances surrounding Walker’s murder remain unclear.
Jeffrey Hash, the off-duty police officer who shot Walker, was driving his vehicle with his wife and daughter when they approached Walker, a 37-year-old unarmed black man crossing the street near his parents’ home.
Moments later, Hash opened fire, and soon Walker was lying dead from gunshot wounds.
In amateur video filmed immediately after the shooting and posted online, Hash explains to fellow officers called to the scene that Walker jumped into the middle of the street and had braked to avoid him.
Hash said Walker then lunged at the vehicle, ripped off a windshield wiper and used it to hit the windshield, which he said prompted him to pull out his gun and open the door. fire to protect his family.
Witnesses offered a different account, saying Hash hit Walker with his vehicle before pulling over.
“I saw it brake, come to a complete stop, then go on,” Elizabeth Ricks told an ABC station. “I saw him hit Jason…then his body was thrown against the windshield.”
Ricks said he then heard gunshots.
“I think he fired the first shot through the windshield and three more times outside the vehicle,” she added.
Police say Hash’s black van had no visible dents and Walker’s body showed no signs of impact other than gunshot wounds.
Hash was placed on administrative leave but has not been arrested or charged with a crime. State investigators have opened an investigation into the murder.
A judge on Thursday granted a motion by Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins to publicly release footage she says will show interactions between Fayetteville police officers and three witnesses at the scene of the shooting, a reported The Fayetteville Observer.
On Thursday night, Crump said 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 this was a case of ‘shoot first, ask later,’ a philosophy too often seen in law enforcement,” Crump said in a statement. Earlier in the day.
Widespread racial justice protests erupted across the United States in 2020 following the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A police officer was later charged with murder and sentenced to 22½ years in prison, in a rare prosecution of a law enforcement officer over an incident at work.
Intermittent protests have continued across the United States around other high-profile killings of unarmed black people, with many supporters calling for broader federal police reforms.