Friday, 19 April, 2019

Former Asheville Police Officer Charged For August Beating

Feds investigating Asheville use of force incident All rights reserved
Deanna Wagner | 10 March, 2018, 02:40

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.

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.

Asheville's mayor and City Council complained that they didn't know about the case until the video was published.

Ruggiero said that he previously warned Rush about jaywalking and told him that he had two options: to either be arrested or receive a ticket.

"It doesn't matter, man".

"Motherf--, 4-3 on foot, white male, a black male, white tank top, thinks it's amusing", Hickman says on the video while chasing Rush. "Do what you got to do besides keep harassing me, man", Rush responds. The charges were dismissed by the Buncombe County District Attorney's Office last September against Rush.

During the arrest, Rush was shocked with a Taser, choked and beaten by Hickman, according to police records. "He was looking for opportunities to gain more skills so he could qualify for higher-paying jobs", she said.

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On Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that the FBI had opened a criminal investigation into the actions of Hickman.

This incident again highlights the impunity under which police agencies operate in the United States, where 1,192 people were murdered by the police last year and this year another 228 as of March 7, an average of more than three killings every day.

The Asheville Police chief put Hickman on desk duty immediately following the beating last August, and he resigned from the force in January after an internal investigation determined he should be fired.

Surge told the Citizen-Times that Hickman utilized racial slurs against him as he was being dealt with for his injuries.

Upon arriving at the scene, Sergeant Lisa Taube, the supervising officer responsible for taking Rush's statement, reportedly accused Rush of lying about the beating repeatedly before finally calling an ambulance to take the injured man to a nearby hospital.

The two administrative investigations of Hickman, which concluded in December, took several months.

"Asheville has an issue where we place value on certain people and we devalue other people based on their race, their politics, their economic situation or their placement within Asheville", Smith said. "We can be better. We MUST uphold ourselves to the highest standards and practices", she said.

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