The call for changes came after a special prosecutor announced an off-duty law enforcement officer won’t be charged for killing Fayetteville’s Jason Walker.
North Carolina needs to do more to protect people, especially people of color, from uses of deadly force by police and law enforcement, a leading civil rights attorney says.
“This case speaks for the need for reform of the North Carolina laws and their equivalent across the nation that allow unnecessary deadly force as a means of self-protection, which we often see loosely interpreted,” Ben Crump said in a statement. “Laws like the one protecting Jeffrey Hash disproportionally justify killings of people of color.”
Crump has built a national reputation representing the families of Black men, women, and children killed by police. He spoke out about North Carolina laws after a special prosecutor announced no charges would be filed against Jeffrey Hash, a Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed Jason Walker after a Fayetteville traffic altercation. Hash was off-duty and acting as a civilian at the time.
Crump is representing Walker’s family, and called the decision by the NC Conference of District Attorneys not to file charges “upsetting.” Crump went on to say that Hash, as a trained police officer, should have de-escalated the situation instead of using deadly force. (Crump also has North Carolina roots, he was born in Lumberton and spent his early years there.)
The NC Conference of District Attorneys reviewed the Jan. 8 killing after the local district attorney recused himself, and said that an agitated Walker, 37, had jumped on the hood of Hash’s truck, tearing off a windshield wiper and striking the window to the point of shattering the windshield. Hash got out of his car and shot Walker, killing him, according to the report.
“(W)hile it is possible that other alternatives were available to Hash, the analysis is not and cannot be whether his actions were the only option or even the best option,” Kimberley Overton Spahos wrote in her decision. “When determining whether criminal charges are filed, the question is whether the State can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the action he took violated the law.”
North Carolina follows what’s known as the “castle doctrine” when it comes to self-defense, allowing someone to use deadly force if they believe they need to in order to save themselves or others from death or bodily harm while in their home, car, or workplace.
The Fayetteville Police Accountability Community Taskforce, a non-profit group, is also asking for a federal investigation into Walker’s death, according to CBS 17.