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Special prosecutor: No charges will be filed against deputy who shot Jason Walker

The prosecutor cited North Carolina’s self-defense law and said the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Walker’s shooting was unlawful.


Cumberland County sheriff’s Lt. Jeffrey Hash will not be charged with the Jan. 8 shooting death of Jason Walker, the special prosecutor who reviewed the case said in a letter dated April 21 to the State Bureau of Investigation.

“This shooting was indisputably tragic, but based upon these facts, the State of North Carolina will not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooting of Jason Walker was unlawful. Consequently, our office will not be seeking charges related to the death of Jason Walker,’’ Kimberly Overton Spahos, executive director of the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys, wrote to D.M. Deaver Jr., the SBI’s special agent in charge.

The SBI reviewed the case and submitted its findings to the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys at the request of Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West.

In her letter, Spahos detailed the circumstances that led Hash to shoot Walker after Walker got onto the hood of the deputy’s pickup truck, broke off a windshield wiper and repeatedly tried to smash the wiper through the windshield. 

Spahos also detailed Walker's autopsy findings and the legal reasons that her office decided not to file charges against Hash, who has been a Cumberland County deputy for 17 years.

Walker’s death sparked weeks of protests in Fayetteville and led nationally recognized lawyer Ben Crump to take the case for his family. Crump has also represented George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020 caused protests and riots throughout the country.

Another protest for Walker took place Thursday evening at the Market House, where about a dozen people gathered.

Among those who have protested Walker’s death is Myah Warren of Fayetteville.

“I’m definitely enraged that this has happened,” Warren said about the decision not to charge Hash. “I feel like our local leadership has let us down and our state leadership has let us down, and that we will not stop fighting for justice for Jason Walker.”

Details of the shooting

About 2:15 p.m. on Jan. 8, Spahos wrote, Hash was off duty and driving his pickup truck northbound on Bingham Drive. His wife was in the front passenger seat, and his teenage daughter was in the backseat. 

As Hash approached the intersection of Bingham Drive and Shenandoah Drive, “he intended to turn right into the Shenandoah neighborhood,’’ Spahos wrote.

“Before they got to Shenandoah Drive, Hash and his wife noticed Jason Walker running across Bingham Drive. Walker was yelling, waving his hands in the air, and appeared to be agitated,” the special prosecutor wrote. “Walker was also not wearing any shoes.” 

Unsure whether Walker needed help, Hash stopped his truck in the right turn lane of Bingham Drive. Hash and Walker had never met before, Spahos wrote. For an unknown reason, Walker ran directly toward the truck and got on top of the hood in either a crouched position or on his knees. He then tore off a wiper on the driver’s side and began striking the windshield.

Spahos, who could not immediately be reached for comment, wrote that Hash and his wife shouted at Walker to stop and get off the truck, but he continued smashing the wiper against the windshield.

“The windshield began to crack and cave in, and shards of glass were coming into the truck and hitting Hash and his wife,” Spahos wrote. “Upon processing the scene and the truck, the Fayetteville Police Department and NC SBI found that the windshield wiper had been forcibly removed, there were multiple points of impact on the windshield, the windshield was shattered and caving in, and there were shards of glass both outside and inside the truck.”

The letter quotes Walker's father, Anthony Walker, telling the first officer on the scene: “He was out here in the daggone street when that fellow drove up. He jumped up on the guy's hood, the guy got out (indiscernible) started shooting. He pulled out one of the daggone windshield wipers, and he hit the windshield with the wiper.” 

Hash got out of the truck, Spahos wrote, but neglected to put it in park.

“As Hash exited the truck, Walker immediately lunged at him. Hash saw something in Walker's hand, but he was unsure whether it was the windshield wiper or something else,” Spahos wrote. “Hash was wearing a Glock 9 mm pistol in a holster on his side, and when Walker lunged toward him, Hash pulled the firearm and fired four shots at Walker.” 

An autopsy by the state medical examiner revealed that Walker had been shot four times. The autopsy report ruled the death a homicide.

“One bullet entered Walker's lower chest and traveled through the chest, hitting multiple vital organs, and lodged in his back; this wound by itself would have been fatal,” Spahos wrote. 

She wrote that another bullet entered the top of Walker’s head and traveled down the neck and lodged in the spinal cord. Another bullet entered the front of the left thigh, and a fourth bullet entered the left back and exited the left side.

“The trajectory of this single entry wound to the back is not consistent with Walker's back being toward Hash when the wound occurred,” Spahos wrote. “The trajectory is consistent with the plane of Walker's back being parallel to Hash.” During protests in the weeks following the shooting, protesters carried signs saying Walker had been shot in the back.  

After the shooting, Hash immediately called 911 and indicated that Walker was dead. Shortly after that, Spahos wrote, a woman in a passing car, Elizabeth Ricks, stopped and identified herself as a trauma nurse. Ricks went to Walker and told Hash that she could feel a faint pulse. 

“Although Ricks identified herself as a trauma nurse to Hash and to multiple officers who responded to the scene, she was not and has never been a nurse,” according to Spahos. “Multiple other witnesses indicated that Walker was deceased before EMS arrived.”

Spahos said the SBI spent weeks investigating the shooting before presenting its findings to her.

Spahos wrote that the central issue in this case is whether Hash was justified under state law in using deadly force.

If Walker was trying to unlawfully and forcefully enter Hash’s truck, Spahos wrote, “Hash is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm to himself or another” and “was authorized to use deadly force against Mr. Walker.”

She noted that once Hash got out of his truck, Walker lunged at him holding the windshield wiper. Under North Carolina’s self-defense law, deadly force can be used if a person reasonably believed that he was in danger of great bodily harm or death.

“In this case,” Spahos wrote, “the evidence clearly supports the conclusion that Hash reasonably believed that he, his wife, and his child were in imminent danger of great bodily injury or death at the hands of Walker.”

She said Hash had to make a split-second decision.

“While it is possible that other alternatives were available to Hash, the analysis is not and cannot be whether his actions were the only option or even the best option,” Spahos wrote. “When determining whether criminal charges are filed, the question is whether the State can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the action he took violated the law.”

Hash’s lawyer, Parrish Hayes Daughtry of Dunn, said she met earlier Thursday with Hash. She said the deputy was relieved.

“First and foremost, Lt. Hash wants peace for his community and his family. I think that would be the overriding concern right now,” Daughtry said. “Having known the facts that were presented and some of the statements and the body camera footage and other evidentiary issues, I believe that Ms. Spahos has made the correct decision, I believe, under the law that Lt. Hash is immune from any prosecution, civil or criminal.

“Under the law, the law clearly states that if you’re acting in that defense that you’re immune, totally, from being prosecuted in civil or criminal court,” she said. “And knowing the facts that occurred, I believe that there was an inability to take out any criminal actions against him and I believe he acted lawfully, knowing the facts.”

Hash was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

CityView TODAY reporter Michael Futch contributed to this story.

Greg Barnes is an investigative reporter for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at gregbarnes401@gmail.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Jason Walker, Jeffrey Hash, fatal shooting, off-duty deputy, State Bureau of Investigation, Cumberland County Sheriff's Office