Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Ex-Asheville cop arraigned on charges he beat man over jaywalking

Feds investigating Asheville use of force incident All rights reserved
| 11 March, 2018, 03:00

The FBI has launched a criminal investigation on a white North Carolina officer who is seen beating and subduing a black man accused of jaywalking.

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. Personnel files made public this week showed Hickman turned in his badge and gun the day after the incident, but remained on the force for more than four months until he resigned in January at a meeting where Hooper was preparing to fire him.

The video begins with Officer Verino Ruggiero warning local resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush about repeated jaywalking.

The footage of Hickman assaulting the jaywalker was caught on his body camera. Rush takes off on foot and Hickman chases him.

His comment can't be heard, but Hickman responds: "Oh it's a 'Please" now is it?' Hickman says.

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.

Following an SBI investigation, Hickman resigned, and will probably be charged later this year.

State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Patty McQuillan said in an email Wednesday that an FBI criminal investigation was launched into the actions of Asheville police officer Christopher Hickman on August 25, 2017.


Local police chief Tammy Hooper also offered to resign herself at a packed community Wednesday evening, a week after apologizing.

"When it's all said and done, just like every time, I have been ready and willing come to the table with whoever wants to do the work that's needed to get us past this", Hooper said.

In the video, an officer trainee tells Rush he already warned him about jaywalking, and that he'll have to write him a ticket or arrest him.

The city released the documents after police camera video was given to the Asheville Citizen-Times. A phone listing for Hickman had a full inbox that wouldn't take messages Friday.

Police said they plan to present an investigation into whether Hickman's actions against Rush were criminal to the district attorney next week.

Rush was then tasered twice as he's held on the ground and is choked as he breathlessly tells the cops, "I can't breathe". The FBI is now investigating.

An examination from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which comes notwithstanding a criminal examination by the Asheville police of their own officer, will probably center around infringement of Rush's social equality.

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