WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — An off-duty sheriff’s deputy had a frantic conversation with a 911 operator after fatally shooting a Black man last weekend in North Carolina, saying the pedestrian did “jump on my vehicle and broke my windshield,” according to an audio recording released Tuesday.
Deputy Jeffrey Hash can then be heard becoming more agitated while talking with a person he said was a trauma nurse who responded to the scene and telling the operator that “there’s tons of cars and people gathering around.”
Fayetteville police said Monday that a preliminary investigation determined Jason Walker, 37, “ran into traffic and jumped on a moving vehicle” on Saturday. Hash, a Cumberland County deputy, shot Walker and then called 911, police said. Walker was pronounced dead at the scene.
Protesters staged demonstrations on Sunday and Monday. They are disputing the police department’s account of events.
A news release on Monday said Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins and the Cumberland County district attorney asked the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation to conduct the investigation into the shooting. The FBI office in Charlotte said it was aware of the investigation and was 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,” the statement said.
Hash has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. He has been with the sheriff’s office since 2005.
Parrish Daughtry, the attorney representing Hash, couldn’t discuss the specifics of the case, but said Tuesday that her client was upset about the shooting.
“Lt. Hash is devastated for Mr. Walker’s family, his own family, the greater community and devastated by these events,” Daughtry said. ”Beyond that, I’m really prohibited from discussing the facts.”
Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney who represented the family of George Floyd and has been retained by the Walker family, issued a statement on Tuesday.
“We have reason to believe that this was a case of ‘shoot first, ask later,’ a philosophy seen all too often within law enforcement,” Crump said. “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.”
Hash’s 911 call, which lasted approximately four minutes, was answered at 2:18 p.m. on Jan. 8. He gave the operator his location on the southwest side of Fayetteville and told her what happened.
“I just had a male jump on my vehicle and broke my windshield. I just shot him,” said Hash, who never gave his name to the operator during the recording and only identified himself as a lieutenant with the sheriff’s office.
The operator asked Hash if he was beside the victim and he said he was. When the operator asked if Walker was breathing, Hash responded, “He’s gone, ma’am. No ma’am, he is not breathing. He’s gone.”
During the call, Hash directed his attention away from the 911 operator after she asked what kind of vehicle the victim was in. He yelled to someone at the scene, “I’m the deputy sheriff. He jumped on my vehicle and I just had to shoot him.”
Hash told the operator that he was driving his Ford F-150 when the victim “came flying across Bingham Drive, running, and I stopped so I wouldn’t hit him and he jumped on my car and started screaming.”
According to Hash, Walker pulled off the windshield wipers and began beating the windshield, breaking it, The deputy said his wife and daughter were in the truck with him. The operator then asked Hash if Walker had any weapons on him and he responded, “I don’t know.” He repeated that the victim took the windshield wipers off the truck.
Asked if he knew where Walker had been shot, he said he saw blood on the man’s side, then asked the trauma nurse if she had seen any wounds. Her response was inaudible. Someone else asked Hash where he had shot Walker and he emphatically answered, “I don’t know.”
“Where is the entry point?” two voices were heard to ask Hash, to which he responded, “I do not know,” reiterating that Walker jumped on his car.
The operator then told Hash not to engage with those approaching, and he responded that the crowd gathered around him “is real hostile right now.” Again, the operator told Hash not to engage with the crowd. With sirens sounding in the background, police officers arrived on the scene and Hash ended the conversation with the operator.