Officer charged with assaulting jaywalking suspect

10 March, 2018, 01:32 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Feds investigating Asheville use of force incident

Hickman's arrest comes two months after he resigned from the Asheville Police Department and more than six months since he allegedly assaulted Rush in August.

Buncombe County, North Carolina, District Attorney Todd Williams said Thursday charges have been filed in connection with an incident in Asheville involving a white police officer, who was seen on a body camera footage punching and subduing a black man accused of jaywalking, that left many residents outraged and asking for answers.

Christopher William Hickman has been charged with Assault by strangulation, Assault inflicting serious injury, and Communicating threats, according to the Buncombe County District Attorney's Office.

Body camera film from officer Chris Hickman, who was with his learner Verino Ruggiero, demonstrates that Rush said he was worn out and advised officers to quit annoying him, before the circumstance heightened to a capture for jaywalking and trespassing on a parking area.

The city of Asheville has filed a petition requesting that the Police Department release additional body camera footage from the night of Rush's arrest to provide the public with a "complete picture of the incident". The FBI is now investigating.

Before the newspaper's release on February 28 of that video, showing Officer Chris Hickman tasering and beating Johnnie Jermaine Rush, the state's investigative unit expressed little interest in pursuing the case from August 25, says Casey Blake, the paper's community engagement editor. Then he yelled at Rush, "You know what's amusing is you're going to get f-- up hardcore on the ground".

Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper listened to community members, Wednesday, as they spoke during the Asheville Citizens Police Action Committee meeting at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr.

At one point Rush attempts to run, and Hickman says "You know what's amusing is you're going to get f--ed up hardcore".

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After words are exchanged, Rush attempts to flee on foot when Hickman tries to arrest him.

The pedestrian said he couldn't breathe as Hickman choked him, repeatedly hit him over the head and handcuffed him.

All charges against Rush, including assaulting a government official and jaywalking, have been dropped.

"This is a human rights issue, and Hickman should've been charged from day one", local Black Lives Matter leader DeLores Venable said during Wednesday's meeting, per the Citizen-Times report. The investigation also found that Hickman had engaged in "rude and discourteous behavior" on at least four other occasions.

Asheville police finished an administrative probe in December, concluding that Hickman should be fired. The warrant said Rush lost consciousness when Hickman placed his arm on his throat and applied pressure.

The city did not provide contact information for Hickman.

Describing the threat charge, it also notes that Hickman can be heard saying to Rush: "You're going to get f--d up hardcore".

Of the story, which was picked up by the New York Times and other national outlets, Blake says: "It's a big one for us and it's still developing". He resigned instead at the beginning of a January meeting where he was scheduled to be terminated.

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