A common mistake made by media outlets and law enforcement officials alike is taking a cop’s word at face value. Reporters far too often treat police reports like they’re the gospel etched on stone tablets and delivered by Moses himself, and cops will almost always believe other cops over the civilians they’re accused of victimizing—especially when said victims are Black.
Look, I don’t mean to blow anyone’s mind to bits when I say this, but—cops be lying.
Police officers have the same incentive to stretch the truth or blatantly say things that aren’t true in order to avoid the accountability that anyone has.
On Saturday, 37-year-old Black man Jason Walker was shot and killed by a white off-duty Fayetteville, North Carolina, police officer. That much we know is true. What’s unclear is what led up to the shooting.
According to WRAL, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey Hash claimed he shot Walker after the victim, for seemingly no reason whatsoever, jumped on his red pickup truck.
You know things are looking bad when even the cop’s justification for shooting an unarmed man doesn’t make sense. Let’s set aside the question, “Why would the Black guy just randomly jump on the cop’s truck?” and start with the question, “How TF would jumping on the guy’s truck warrant being shot to death?”
But actually, before diving into any of that, an often overlooked question needs to be asked: Is what the officer said even true?
According to witness Elizabeth Ricks—who can be seen on camera attempting to render medical aid to Walker while Hash was on the phone with 911 and while bystanders called him out for lying to the dispatcher about witnesses being “hostile”—told ABC 11 that she saw the entire incident unfold and that it was the officer who hit Walker with his truck.
“I did not see anyone in distress. The man was just walking home,” Ricks said.
Truthfully, it’s unclear if Hash actually hitting Walker is true either since, according to Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins, the dashboard camera on Hash’s truck “did not record any impact with any person or thing” and that investigators “currently have no witnesses that anyone was hit by this truck.”
But that would also mean there’s no evidence of Walker suddenly jumping on Hash’s truck either.
Whatever took place that day, the preliminary report offered by Fayetteville police was that Hash shot Walker after Walker jumped on his truck, which basically means the cop’s initial assessment of the incident was simple—a cop said it, so it must be true.
According to the Daily Mail, because of that preliminary report, dozens of citizens gathered Sunday in front of the Fayetteville police station to protest the department’s initial account of what happened.
The outlet also reported that Hash was taken into custody after the shooting but not formally arrested. According to WRAL, Hawkins said she had no idea if he had even been suspended or not.