What happened on Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville, in the southeast of the United States, between the time when police officer Jeffrey Hash passed, driving his pickup, Jason Walker crossing the street near his parents’ house, and the one where he repeatedly shot him? The versions differ, but the death of Jason Walker, 37, unarmed, caused a stir in this city of more than 200,000 inhabitants of North Carolina.
Renowned lawyer Ben Crump, who has defended numerous victims of police violence, and Jason Walker’s family held a “rally for justice” at 8 p.m. Thursday evening. Fist raised, the lawyer repeated twenty times “Jason Walker matters” (“Jason Walker counts”) in a church in Fayetteville, whose audience powerfully echoed the antiphon, according to images broadcast live by the channel local WRAL.
“As the truth has been revealed” for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, or even Breonna Taylor, “the truth will be revealed for Jason Walker,” said Ben Crump, referring to other African-American victims over the past two years, killed by police or ex-police. “I pray that there will be peace,” Jason Walker’s mother said before the audience in the church. “We have reason to believe that this is a file of the style” we shoot first, then we ask questions “, a philosophy that we see too often among the police” , also estimated in a statement Ben Crump.
At the material time, Jeffrey Hash was not on duty, and was in the car with his wife and daughter. In an amateur video, filmed just after the drama and posted online, the policeman, employed by the city since 2005, explains to colleagues called on the spot that Jason Walker threw himself in the middle of the street and that he slowed down to avoid it. According to him, the 30-something then threw himself on his vehicle, tore off his wiper and used it to hit the windshield, forcing him to draw his weapon to protect his family.
But witnesses assure that he struck the pedestrian before stopping. “I saw him brake suddenly, stop and start again,” Elizabeth Ricks told ABC. “I saw him hit Jason (…) and his body landed on the windshield. And there I heard shots. I think he fired the first shot through the windshield and three more times outside the vehicle, ”she added.
Jeffrey Hash’s pickup black box did not register a shock, police said, and Jason Walker’s body had no signs of impact other than bullets. The officer was placed on administrative leave, but neither arrested nor charged at this stage. The investigations were entrusted to state investigators. American police officers kill an average of a thousand people a year, with African Americans overrepresented among their victims. They are rarely prosecuted, however, even though the major anti-racist protests in the summer of 2020 sparked a change in the courts.