FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump will represent the family of a man who was killed by an off-duty Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office deputy this past weekend, his firm announced Tuesday.
The family of 37-year-old Jason Walker has retained Crump to represent them as an investigation into the shooting is being conducted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
The incident in question happened just after 2:15 p.m. Saturday near Bingham and Shenandoah drives in Fayetteville. Walker was killed when he was shot by off-duty Deputy Jeffrey Hash.
Hash was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, the sheriff’s office announced Monday morning. Hash has been with the sheriff’s office since 2005. He is a lieutenant in the civil section.
According to police, the shooting happened after Walker jumped on the hood of Hash’s pickup truck in the middle of the road.
On Sunday, Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins said data taken from the “black box” of the deputy’s pickup truck showed no impact happened. Some in the community have questioned whether the off-duty deputy hit Walker with the pickup truck before the shooting.
Hawkins also said a witness told police Walker was not hit by the pickup truck. She also said it appears that a windshield wiper was torn off the truck and the metal part of it was used to damage the windshield of the deputy’s truck.
During a news conference, Hawkins also said Hash was detained Saturday, his statement was taken, and the gun used in the shooting was seized by police. Hawkins also stressed the deputy called 911 to report the incident Saturday.
Hawkins asked for any witnesses or anyone with video to speak with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West said at Sunday’s press conference that his office will not be involved in the case and that he had asked the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys to handle any potential prosecution in the case.
West said the decision was made “to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest in this case.”
Hawkins said that there was “no indication” Hash and Walker knew each other.
The release from Crump’s firm said they’re taking the case to determine if Walker was shot in the back by Hash as he tried to return home.
“His parents lived across the street, less than 100 yards away,” according to the release.
Crump released the following statement regarding the case:
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 have reason to believe that this was a case of ‘shoot first, ask later,’ a philosophy seen all too often within law enforcement. 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.”
Walker’s killing has led to several days of protests in Fayetteville and a protest in downtown Raleigh on Monday night.
As protesters chanted outside the chambers, Hawkins told the Fayetteville City Council during Monday night’s meeting that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is now conducting an “initial assessment” of the case. While not a full-scale investigation, Hawkins said the agency is looking to see whether there were any potential civil rights violations.
“They are collecting statements and evidence that’s already been provided to them,” Hawkins told the city council.
The FBI released a statement to CBS 17:
We are aware of the shooting death investigation in Fayetteville and are in regular contact with local and state authorities. If, in the course of the North Carolina SBI investigation, information comes to light of a potential federal violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate.”Shelley Lynch, FBI Charlotte Division
As the SBI leads the investigation and the FBI conducts its initial assessment into the case, Fayetteville City Council also passed a resolution Monday evening calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to probe the case.
The city council asked the city manager to put together a draft, which the city plans to send to the U.S. Attorney.