Prominent U.S. civil rights attorney Ben Crump said on Tuesday he will represent the family of a Black man who was shot dead by an off-duty North Carolina deputy over the weekend in an incident that has drawn protests against police violence.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) said it is investigating the Saturday killing of Jason Walker, 37, in Fayetteville, a city about 100 miles (161 km) east of Charlotte. The deputy involved, Jeffrey Hash, was put on administrative leave, local media reported.
Police in Fayetteville say that Walker had run into traffic and jumped on a moving vehicle before being shot by the driver, who they said then called 911.
Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins later said a black box taken from Hash’s pickup truck showed no impact had happened, local media reported.
Announcing that he had been retained by Walker’s family, Crump, who represented the family of George Floyd after he was killed by former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, disputed the Fayetteville Police account.
“At the crux of the matter, was Mr. Walker shot in the back as he tried to return home? His parents lived across the street, less than 100 yards away,” Crump’s firm said on Twitter.
“We stand committed, with the family and the young son that Jason Walker left behind, to find answers as to what happened to him when he was senselessly shot and killed by off-duty deputy Jeffrey Hash,” Crump was quoted as saying.
Reuters was not immediately able to reach Hash or a lawyer representing him for comment.
At a protest outside the Fayetteville Police headquarters on Sunday, demonstrators chanted, “Say his name! Jason Walker!,” and heard remarks from a woman who said she was an eyewitness to the incident. She disputed the police account.
“He was not acting crazy, he didn’t jump on traffic. That officer – murderer – shot him, hit him with his car. How would Jason jump onto a big truck?,” the eyewitness, identified on social media as Elizabeth Ricks, told demonstrators.
Asked for comment, the FBI said it was aware of the shooting death investigation in Fayetteville and that it is in regular contact with local authorities in North Carolina.
“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,” FBI spokesperson Shelley Lynch said.