Police body video shows officer beating accused jaywalker
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Six months after a white officer’s beating and shocking of a black man he accused of jaywalking in Asheville, North Carolina, his body camera recording suggests why the police department is still investigating the case.
Asheville police Chief Tammy Hooper publicly apologized to 33-year-old Johnnie Jermaine Rush on Thursday after the Citizen Times reported on the video, calling Rush’s treatment “unacceptable and contrary” to the progress her department has made in earning the trust of the community. She also said that Officer Chris Hickman resigned, and may face criminal prosecution.
The video shows Hickman ordering Rush to put his hands behind his back. Rush runs instead, and Hickman chases after him, shouting “mother f-----! ... black male, white tank top, thinks it’s funny, you know what’s funny is you’re going to get f----- up hardcore!”
The video also shows the officer punching the man’s head and using a stun gun while holding him to the ground on Aug. 25.
The recording begins as Hickman spots Rush walking across an empty street after midnight. Hickman tells a fellow officer that the alleged jaywalker “just did it again... he’s not learning, right after you just told him.”
Rush tells the officers that he just wants to go home from work. Hickman’s partner says they can either arrest him or issue him a ticket. Rush tells them he doesn’t care, as long as they stop harassing him. Hickman then opts for arrest and Rush runs across the street, where he is quickly brought to the ground.
The Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office dismissed all charges against Rush within a month after police accused him of assault on a government official, resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer, and trespass and traffic offenses. The police chief and District Attorney Todd Williams together asked the State Bureau of Investigation to open a criminal investigation, but the SBI declined.
The state agency didn’t learn about the case until five months after it occurred, and that delay caused problems with the memories of witnesses and other evidence, SBI spokesman Patty McQuillan said.
Typically, agencies call for criminal investigations into their employees immediately, which makes it easier, McQuillan said.
After no other agency agreed to take the case, Hooper ordered an internal investigation in January and will forward the results for possible criminal prosecution.
The department didn’t immediately respond Friday to an Associated Press request for Hickman’s contact information.
Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com