United States: Emotion after the death of a black man, shot dead by a white policeman in North Carolina

What happened on Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville, in the southeastern United States , between the moment when the police officer Jeffrey Hash crossed, driving his pickup, Jason Walker crossing the street near his parents’ house, and the one where he shot several times? The versions diverge, but the death of Jason Walker, years old and unarmed, caused a great stir in this city of more than 200. inhabitants of North Carolina.

The community mobilized

The famous lawyer Ben Crump, who has defended numerous victims of police violence, and the family of Jason Walker organized a “rally for justice” in h Thursday evening. Fist raised, the lawyer repeated twenty times “Jason Walker matters” (“Jason Walker counts”) in a church in Fayetteville, whose audience powerfully took up the anthem, according to images broadcast live by the channel. local WRAL.

“As the truth has been revealed” for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, or even Breonna Taylor, “the truth will be revealed for Jason Walker,” said Ben Crump, referring to other African-American victims in the past two years, killed by police or ex-police. “I pray for peace,” Jason Walker’s mother told the church crowd. “We have reason to believe that this is a ‘shoot first, then ask questions’ style case, a philosophy we see all too often among law enforcement “, also estimated Ben Crump in a press release.

Contradictory versions

At the time of the events, Jeffrey Hash was not on duty, and was driving with his wife and daughter. In an amateur video, filmed just after the tragedy and put online, the policeman, employed by the city since 2005, explains to colleagues called on the spot that Jason Walker threw himself in the middle of the street and braked to avoid it. According to him, the 30-year-old then jumped on his vehicle, ripped off his windshield wiper and used it to hit the windshield, forcing him to draw his weapon to protect his family.

But witnesses assure that he hit the pedestrian before stopping. “I saw him brake suddenly, stop and start again,” said Elizabeth Ricks on the ABC channel. “I saw him hit Jason (…) and his body landed on the windshield. And then I heard shots. I believe he fired the first shot through the windshield and three more times outside the vehicle,” she added.

According to the police, the black box of Jeffrey Hash’s pick-up did not register a shock and Jason Walker’s body had no traces of impact, other than that of the bullets. The officer has been placed on administrative leave, but not arrested or charged at this stage. The investigations were entrusted to state investigators. American police officers kill an average of a thousand people a year, with an overrepresentation of African Americans among their victims. However, they are rarely prosecuted, even if the major anti-racist demonstrations of the summer 2020 have started a change in the courts.