Protesters gathered at the Fayetteville Market House on Saturday night to demonstrate against a decision this week by a special prosecutor not to charge a deputy in the shooting death of Jason Walker.
It was the second time in three nights a protest was staged from the steps and entrance to the Market House.
“Say his name - Jason Walker,’’ the protesters chanted.
Kimberly Spahos, the special prosecutor assigned to review the case, announced Thursday that no charges will be filed against Lt. Jeffrey Hash, the off-duty Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy who fired the shots that killed 37-year-old Walker.
In a letter to the State Bureau of Investigation, she said North Carolina’s self-defense law allows the use of deadly force if Hash reasonably believed that he or another person was in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death.
Spahos was assigned to the case after the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office recused itself.
Walker was shot Jan. 8 near his home on Bingham Drive after witnesses said he jumped on the deputy’s truck, ripped a windshield wiper off and began smashing the windshield. Hash has said he exited his pickup and shot Walker to protect his wife and daughter, who were in the vehicle with him.
Hash, who has been with the Sheriff’s Office since 2005, was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
Saturday’s protest was organized by Shaun McMillan, who has appeared before the City Council and spearheaded other demonstrations calling for justice for Walker and his family in the weeks since the shooting.
At one point Saturday, McMillan was using a portable megaphone when four Fayetteville police officers gathered around him and removed the bullhorn from his hands.
Earlier, a police officer tried to hand him a citation for using the megaphone in the city. The citation, another officer said later, was the result of a city noise ordinance.
McMillan never broke stride as he continued to call out loudly to fellow demonstrators.
“Arrest Jeffrey Hash,’’ he called out repeatedly. "Say his name – Jason Walker.”
Several people who were downtown for the Dogwood Festival stopped to watch the protesters.
“We’ve been doing this for years,” said Eunice White, 66, of Rocky Mount.
“All the killing. Depression. Every time you try to raise up, they push us down. This is a shame. This man was killed.
“What happened to going to court to prove your innocence?” she said. “What happened to that? Now you shoot a person, and you don’t know if they are guilty or innocent. Just because of the color of your skin. When are we going to start acting human?”
Earlier Saturday, McMillan issued a statement calling for North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene in the case.
In the statement, McMillan said Spahos received hundreds of emails asking her to bring the case to trial.
“In the wake of Spahos' failure to act, Activists will look to state and federal leadership for justice that has to this point been denied,’’ the statement said.
In the statement, McMillan also said the Fayetteville City Council “has resisted independent oversight since 2012 and chosen time and time again to remain silent about police misconduct and police homicide (citing the homicides of Joshua Oxendine. Nizja Hagans, Treva Smutherman, Lawrence Graham, Shaqur McNair and Adrian Roberts).’’
Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
“This community will transform this tragically abhorrent status quo by electing new leadership and working alongside good-hearted folk who truly value Black lives,” McMillan said in the statement. “The people in this community will continue to build power and to fight on for Jason Walker. We will work harder than ever for legal redress of this homicide and to establish independent oversight of the Fayetteville Police Department. Jason Walker’s life still matters and will always matter."
Attempts to reach a spokesman for the Police Department on Saturday night were not successful.
“A windshield wiper is not a deadly weapon. There’s no deadly threat,” said Aleah Jackson, 35, who attended the protest with her 4-year-old son, Carver, in a stroller. “There was no reason to exit the vehicle and still shoot him,” she said of Hash.
Alena Barosa, 35, of Fayetteville, said she attends as many of the Walker demonstrations as she can. She said she supports the demonstrators who continue to urge for justice for Walker and his family.
“I was disgusted when I saw it,” she said of the special prosecutor's decision. “I couldn't believe it. I think we’re all for a community review board for the Police Department. There’s no checks and balances.”
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.