Published: Sun, March 11, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Ex-Asheville Officer Charged In Beating Of Jaywalker

Ex-Asheville Officer Charged In Beating Of Jaywalker

A prominent Charlotte civil rights law firm is deciding whether to sue the city of Asheville over an incident in which a white Asheville Police Department officer apparently beat, strangled and used a stun-gun on a black pedestrian, Carolina Public Press confirmed Friday.

A North Carolina city has asked that all police body camera footage of a white officer beating a black man accused of jaywalking past year be released.

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 public did not know the police chief quietly oversaw an internal investigation and was about to fire the officer when he quit in January.

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Last August, a white North Carolina police officer was caught on tape attacking and tasing a black jaywalker, and the officer now faces assault charges, according to CNN. The case became public after footage of the officer's body camera was leaked. Hickman first told the trainee to write him a ticket, but then told Rush to put his hands behind his back after Rush complained that officers didn't have anything better to do than "harass somebody" for walking. After a Taser is picked up, a clicking and humming noise is heard as Rush cries out in pain.

Hickman, 31, was charged with assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats, according to a release from Buncombe County District Attorney's Office. Hickman resigned in January.

A Wednesday meeting of a citizen's police advisory board began with Police Chief Tammy Hooper offering a timeline of what she called "a very egregious and violent episode".

Rush appears to slow down and stops to confront the officers, who pushed him to the ground.

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Rush, who in a later interview said he had just finished a 13-hour shift at the Cracker Barrel, said he just wanted to go home and accused the officers of harassing him.

Hooper echoed Williams' statement and added that it was "unlawful" to release the footage and an investigation may be launched, reports Citizen Times.

"It doesn't matter to me, man", Rush said.

Hooper said, after reviewing the video, that she and District Attorney Todd Williams asked the State Bureau of Investigation to initiate a criminal investigation, but they declined. The FBI is now investigating.

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On Thursday, a judge issued a warrant for Hickman's arrest, and Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer said that he has already been taken into custody.

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