Fayetteville, NC – The off-duty Cumberland County deputy who fatally shot a suspect who jumped on the hood of his moving truck while he was driving with his wife and daughter and bashed the windshield in will not be criminally charged.
North Carolina Conference of District Attorney’s Special Prosecutor Kimberly Overton Spahos announced on April 21 that Cumberland County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Jeffrey Hash will not face criminal charges in connection with the Jan. 8 shooting death of 37-year-old Jason Walker, WNCN reported.
Spahos said Lt. Hash “clearly” believed that he, his wife, and his daughter were all in imminent danger when Walker inexplicably jumped onto the hood of his truck, ripped of his windshield wiper, and began beating his windshield.
Walker hit the windshield with enough force to shatter it and cave it in, sending shards of glass flying onto the lieutenant and his wife, according to the prosecutor.
Spahos said Lt. Hash jumped out of the pickup while it was still in drive, at which point Walker “lunged” at him from the hood of the vehicle with something in his hand, The Fayetteville Observer reported.
The special prosecutor said the lieutenant didn’t know if the object was the windshield wiper or something else.
Spahos said Lt. Hash made the “split-second decision” to protect himself and his family by firing at their attacker, WNCN reported.
“This shooting is indisputably tragic, but based upon these facts, the State of North Carolina will not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooting of Jason Walker was unlawful,” Spahos said. “Consequently, our office will not be seeking charges related to the death of Jason Walker.”
Lt. Hash, a 17-year veteran of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, Cumberland County Sheriff Ennis Wright confirmed to The Fayetteville Observer shortly after the fatal shooting.
Walker’s family has previously demanded that Lt. Hash be charged with murder.
They claimed Walker was just trying to cross the street when Lt. Hash hit him with his pickup, then got out and shot him twice in the back, according to the Daily Mail.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the suspect’s family, said the special prosecutor’s decision not to charge Lt. Hash is “upsetting” and highlights the “need for reform” of state and federal laws, WNCN reported.
“This case speaks to the need for reform of the North Carolina Laws and their equivalents across the nation that allow unnecessary deadly force as a means of self-protection, which we often see loosely interpreted,” Crump said. “Laws like the one protecting Jeffrey Hash disproportionately justify killings of people of color; the parameters need to be strengthened to prevent the protection of people who are quick to pull the trigger and end a life.”
“Of all people to be able to properly deescalate a situation, a trained police officer like Hash should have been capable of knowing the implications of ending a life and all of the possible steps to avoid doing so,” he opined.
Walker’s mother, Janice Walker, said Lt. Hash’s use of deadly force was “excessive” and that a grand jury should have been allowed to hear the case, WNCN reported.
“We were presented with (the) ‘Stand Your Ground Law’ that may have very well been the case, and if that even be the case, the law needs to be amended,” Janice Walker declared. “The only way for justice to reveal is that a grand jury decide this case.”
The off-duty sheriff’s lieutenant was driving past Walker’s home on Bingham Drive with his wife and daughter shortly after 2:15 p.m. on Jan. 8 when the incident occurred, the Daily Mail reported.
Cell phone footage captured Lt. Hash telling a Fayetteville police officer that he shot Walker after Walker jumped onto the hood of his moving pickup, ripped off the windshield wiper, and began beating on his windshield, The Fayetteville Observer reported.
A nearly four-minute recording of the 911 call Lt. Hash made after the shooting was released by the Fayetteville Police Department (FPD) on Jan. 11, The Fayetteville Observer reported.
The lieutenant provided the dispatcher with his location before explaining what had transpired.
“I just had a male jump on my vehicle and broke my windshield,” he said. “I just shot him. I am a deputy sheriff.”
“You said you shot him?” the dispatcher asked.
“Yes, he jumped on my car, please,” Lt. Hash confirmed, according to The Fayetteville Observer.
The dispatcher asked the lieutenant if he was near Walker.
“I am. He’s gone. He’s gone, ma’am,” he explained.
She then asked if he was breathing.
“No, ma’am, he is not. He’s gone,” Lt. Hash responded.
The lieutenant told the dispatcher a crowd was beginning to gather and that officers were needed, The Fayetteville Observer reported.
“I was driving down the road and he came flying across Bingham Drive, running, and then I stopped so I wouldn’t hit him and he jumped on my car and started screaming; pulled my windshield wipers off, and started beating my windshield and broke my windshield,” Lt. Hash said in the 911 recording. “I had my wife and my daughter in my vehicle.”
He said he didn’t know if the suspect was armed.
Police said Walker’s own father corroborated Lt. Hash’s account of the events.
Bodycam footage showed the elder Walker telling police he saw his son jump on the hood of the family’s truck just before Lt. Hash got out and shot him, The Fayetteville Observer reported.
Lt. Hash called 911 after the shooting, but Walker succumbed to his wounds at the scene, according to the Daily Mail.
Although one witness claimed Walker was hit by the truck and thrown up onto the hood prior to the fatal shooting, evidence from the scene did not support that account, Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins said shortly after the incident, according to WTVD.
Chief Hawkins said the “black box” of Lt. Hash’s pickup did not register “any person or thing” impacting the vehicle, WTVD reported.
“That black box was crucial to determine that vehicle did not impact anything or anyone,” Chief Hawkins told reporters, according to The Fayetteville Observer.
An autopsy determined Walker was shot in his neck and head area, torso, left upper back, and left thigh, The Fayetteville Observer reported.
Walker was not under the influence of “alcohol or common drugs of abuse” at the time of the incident, toxicology tests revealed.