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PROTESTS have erupted over the killing of an unarmed black man by an off-duty white police officer in a North Carolina town last weekend.
Jason Walker was shot by Jeffrey Hash while crossing the street near his parents’ house in Fayetteville last Saturday. According to reports, he died instantly.
Mr Hash claims that he opened fire to protect his family after Mr Walker jumped on his car, tore off a winscreen wiper and beat the front window.
But eyewitness Elizabeth Ricks has given a different account.
“I saw him hit Jason … then his body was slammed into the windshield. I think he [Mr Hash] fired the first shot through the windshield and three more times outside the vehicle,” she said.
Large crowds gathered in Fayetteville yesterday demanding justice, raising the slogan: “Jason Walker matters.”
His family and prominent civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump led a protest at the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church.
“We’ve got to stop this vicious cycle in America of shoot first and ask questions later when it’s black people. It’s unacceptable,” Mr Crump said.
“I tell you, brothers and sisters in Fayetteville, North Carolina, tonight, that it is the right thing to do, that we speak up for the truth of what happened to Jason Walker, that we fight for the truth of what happened to Jason Walker,” the lawyer added.
Mr Crump said that the family wanted to know why Mr Walker had been “senselessly shot and killed” by an off-duty officer.
“We have reason to believe that this was a case of ‘shoot first, ask later,’ a philosophy seen all too often within law enforcement,” he said in a statement.
Police have said that the “black box” indicates that no collision took place and that preliminary investigations have shown that Mr Walker jumped on the vehicle.
The gun used to shoot him was not a service weapon, they said.
Mr Hash has been placed on administrative leave but not arrested, which has helped to fuel the protests.
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