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Judge allows release of bodycam video in shooting death of Jason Walker by off-duty deputy in North Carolina

A judge on Thursday granted a request from the police chief of a North Carolina city to release body camera video recorded in the aftermath of the shooting death of a Black man by an off-duty sheriff's deputy.

Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins filed the petition with the courts on Tuesday. She wanted to publicly release footage that she says will show exchanges between Fayetteville police officers and three witnesses at the scene of last Saturday's fatal shooting of Jason Walker by off-duty Cumberland County Sheriff's Office Lt. Jeffrey Hash, CBS affiliate WNCN reported.

Two witnesses have made comments on social media, released a video and spoken at a demonstration, creating "significant public attention," according to the petition. In bystander video of the shooting's aftermath, it appears the off-duty deputy had been driving a red truck that wasn't a law enforcement vehicle. 

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons told The Fayetteville Observer that he approved the release "in the interest of justice." In a statement, the Fayetteville Police Department said they sought the release of the video "in the interest of transparency,"

Under a North Carolina law passed in 2016, body and dash camera footage is not public record. Anyone can ask a court to order its release, however.

Fayetteville police said Monday that a preliminary investigation determined that Walker, 37, "ran into traffic and jumped on a moving vehicle." Hash shot Walker and then called 911, police said. Walker was pronounced dead at the scene.

In the 911 call obtained by WNCN on Tuesday, a man who identified himself as a lieutenant with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office told the dispatcher that he had just shot a man who had jumped on his vehicle and broken his windshield. The caller said he had been driving with his wife and daughter in a red Ford F-150 when a man ran across the road, prompting him to stop so he wouldn't hit him. The caller then said the man jumped on his car while screaming, pulled his windshield wipers off, and started striking his windshield until it broke. 

The recording also captured people on the scene yelling at the caller to ask where he shot the victim. The caller described the people on the scene as "hostile." 

Hash's attorney told CBS News on Tuesday that his client is "devastated" by what occurred. 

"They're devastated for the family of Jason Walker," the lawyer said in a statement. "They're devastated for their community." 

Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney who represented the family of George Floyd and has been retained by the Walker family, told a rally at a Fayetteville church that Walker was the single father of a 14-year-old son.

US-POLICE-RACISM-CRIME
Attorney Ben Crump speaks at a news conference on January 13, 2022, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Jason Walker was shot and killed by off-duty officer, Jeffrey Hash, on January 8, 2022, in Fayetteville.  ALLISON JOYCE/AFP via Getty Images

"There are a lot of reasons why Black children have to grow up without their fathers," Crump said. "But this reason is unacceptable. This is unacceptable that we have to tell that young boy that his father was shot unnecessarily, unjustifiably and unconstitutionally by somebody who was supposed to protect and serve him."

Floyd, a Black man, was killed in 2020 by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee against Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes as Floyd said he couldn't breathe and eventually went limp. Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison on murder and manslaughter charges.

Walker's family attended the rally, as did Floyd's brother, Philonise, and a nephew.

The FBI told CBS News they are aware of the shooting and are 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 FBI said in a statement.

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