Former Asheville Police Officer Charged For August Beating

Larry Hoffman
March 10, 2018

The announcement, which also said no further comment would be forthcoming, comes days after the Asheville Police Department, where Hickman worked at the time of the alleged assault, submitted the results of its investigation into Hickman's actions.

Police body camera video published by the Asheville Citizen Times on Wednesday has caused widespread public outcry over the beating and torture of an African American man accused of jaywalking and trespassing in a vacant parking lot in Asheville, North Carolina a year ago by white police officers.

Hickman eventually ordered Rush to put his hands behind his back, but Rush backed away and started to run, the video shows.

Body camera footage from officer Chris Hickman, who was with his trainee Verino Ruggiero, shows that Rush said he was exhausted and told officers to stop harassing him, before the situation escalated to an arrest for jaywalking and trespassing on a parking lot.

The FBI is also conducting its own investigation of the incident.

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. "You know what's amusing is you're gonna get fu**ed up hardcore".

Asheville police boss Tammy Hooper said that she would leave on the off chance that it mitigated shock that has ejected over the video, however her offer comes after there has been trouble discovering somebody to explore the case.

De Lores Venable addresses Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper during the Asheville Citizens Police Action Committee meeting
FBI now investigating NC officer in jaywalking beating

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". "I'm not going to lie about that", Hickman is heard saying.

In December, police returned with three new videos related to officer Hickman's use of force. The video shows Verino Ruggiero, then an officer-in-training, confronting the 33-year-old Rush for allegedly walking through the parking lot of a business that was closed for the night, and failing to use a crosswalk while crossing the street near a baseball stadium.

An arrest warrant for Hickman notes that he struck Rush multiple times, causing abrasions and swelling to his head. Assault charges against Rush were dropped soon after he filed an excessive force complaint.

Jackson wrote that Hickman ordered a review of all body camera footage taken by Hickman while on duty. The charges detailed Thursday night against Hickman - who resigned from the police force in January - are one count each of assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury, and communicating threats.

"This is a human rights issue, and Hickman should've been charged from day one", DeLores Venabel, local Black Lives Matter leader, said during the meeting.

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". Hooper made a decision to terminate him in January, personnel records show, but before she could deliver the news, he notified the department of his resignation, the documents say.

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