RALEIGH, N.C. — Two deadly police shootings of unarmed men in North Carolina within days of each other provoked an outcry and protests demanding the facts about what really transpired.
In Fayetteville, on Jan. 8, off-duty Cumberland County Deputy Sheriff Jeffrey Hash shot and killed Jason Walker, a 37-year-old Black man and single father. The chronology of events leading up to the killing is disputed.
Hash claims that as he was driving, Walker ran into the street. Hash stopped, he says, and Walker jumped onto his pickup truck, pulled his windshield wipers off and broke his windshield. “I just had to shoot him,” Hash told the police dispatcher in a call moments later.
Nurse Elizabeth Ricks witnessed the shooting and tried to compress Walker’s wounds, but he died at the scene. Contrary to Hash’s account, she told ABC News she saw Hash “brake, completely stop, and then keep going. I saw him hit Jason … then his body was slammed into the windshield.”
She says Hash shot at Walker through the windshield and then got out of the vehicle and shot him three more times. Other witnesses say they heard at least four shots. “I didn’t see him [Walker] pose a threat,” Ricks told cops.
Anthony Walker said he called his son to come back to their nearby home as he was walking into the street, but Jason kept going and then jumped onto the hood of Hash’s vehicle.
The Walker family has retained civil rights attorney Ben Crump. He led a meeting of some 100 at Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church Jan. 13, urging participants to keep the pressure on authorities to investigate Walker’s killing.
A newly formed group in Fayetteville, Justice For Jason Walker, has called for nightly protests. Family members of other victims of police shootings across the region are participating.
No charges have been filed, and Hash is on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation. So far, Fayetteville city officials have released only four minutes of police body camera footage. They say they have edited the material “to protect witnesses.” City officials say they have been petitioning to get remaining footage released.
Three days after Walker was killed, Daniel Turcios was shot dead by cops in Raleigh shortly after he lost control of his vehicle and crashed. Initially knocked unconscious, he was disoriented as he walked around outside the car. The cops tried to apprehend him but he walked away from them.
Bystanders yelled in Spanish at Turcios, telling him to sit down. His children shouted at the police calling on them not to shoot him. But Turcios, who spoke limited English, did not respond. Officer W.B. Tapscott used his Taser on Turcios and he fell to the ground.
Five cops surrounded him. A police report says Officer A.A. Smith shot Turcios twice, and then when he tried to get up and move toward Smith, the cop shot him three more times. Cops say Turcios swung a knife at them. Turcios, 43, originally from El Salvador, was announced dead at the hospital.
“He wasn’t doing anything,” his widow, Rosa Jerez, said at a press conference. “He didn’t understand anything they told him. They murdered him like a dog. They didn’t care about him at all.”
A vigil was held Jan. 14 with family and supporters. The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation. Smith and Tapscott have been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.