- The release of body cam video in late February caused outrage
- On Thursday, a judge issued a warrant for Hickman's arrest
western North Carolina police officer who resigned after a body camera
video shows him hitting and using a Taser on a man suspected of
jaywalking will face preliminary charges of assault, the Buncombe County
District Attorney's Office said Thursday.
Police Officer Christopher Hickman, 31, was removed from patrol duty a
day after the incident last August and resigned from the Asheville
Police Department in January, the same day he was to be terminated,
according to a
Thursday, a judge issued a warrant for Hickman's arrest on one count
each of assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury and
Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer said Hickman has been taken into custody. It is unclear whether Hickman has an attorney.
CNN reached out to the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Asheville and didn't receive an immediate comment.
release of body cam video in late February caused outrage in this North
Carolina city in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The video shows Hickman and
an officer in training stopping Johnnie Jermaine Rush, then 32, for
allegedly jaywalking in the early morning hours of August 25, 2017.
initial words were exchanged, Hickman moves to arrest Rush, who then
flees on foot, according to video of the incident published by the
thinks it's funny," Hickman is heard saying as he chases Rush. "You
know what's funny is you're gonna get f---ed up hardcore."
officers catch Rush and tackle him. As Rush is being restrained on the
ground, Hickman punches him in the head several times, shoots him with a
stun gun and chokes him.
"I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" Rush repeatedly yells. "Help! Help!"
Later in the video, Hickman speaks with another officer.
"I beat the s--- out of his head," Hickman says. "Not gonna lie about that."
violent arrest is one of several videotaped instances in recent years
that have generated anger and public debate about police use of force.
Hickman did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Rush could not be reached for comment.
spokesman for the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation told CNN
on Thursday that the FBI has launched an investigation into the
incident, and has requested assistance in the probe. The US Department
of Justice told CNN it never comments on whether there is an
Tempers flared at a town hall meeting Wednesday as locals expressed their frustration and anger about the incident,according to CNN affiliate WLOS
. Amid the outcry, police Chief Tammy Hooper said she would resign if it would help resolve the problem, WLOS reported.
CNN called the police department but was unable to get a comment from the chief.
"There is no excuse for what happened to Johnnie Rush," theACLU of North Carolina said in a tweet
"Police must protect and serve everyone, regardless of race. Instead, a
Black man gets beaten, tased, and choked over jaywalking. That's right,
Manheimerapologized to Rush in a statement
on behalf of the City Council.
City Council and I immediately contacted city administration to express
our outrage at the treatment of Mr. Rush and our outrage of not being
informed about the actions of APD officers," Manheimer wrote. "We will
have accountability and, above all, transparency."
said the council wants to review how the incident was handled by police
administrators and to look at police policies and training.
Officer resigned before termination
initially was charged with second-degree trespassing and resisting a
public officer. He filed a complaint with police the day he was arrested
alleging Hickman used excessive force.
Hooper watched the body camera footage, according to the timeline, and
ordered Hickman off the street and told him to turn in his badge and
gun. He was placed on administrative duty after Rush's complaint.
"The whole thing is bad, right? When I watched the video, I had the same reaction as probably you did when you watched it,"Hooper told WLOS
"It's just a terrible, egregious case. The whole reason around the stop
to begin with was just a bad thing from start to finish."
district attorney and Asheville police agreed to dismiss the charges
against Rush in September after watching the body camera footage,
according to documents from the City Council.
acts demonstrated in the video were egregious and unacceptable,"
Asheville police said. "Therefore, APD requested that all charges
against Mr. Rush related to this incident be dropped, to which the DA
agreed and dismissed them."
then went back and reviewed 58 hours of Hickman's body camera footage
and found four other instances in which he displayed "discourteous and
rude conduct to members of the public," according to the timeline.
In January, Hooper moved to fire Hickman but the officer resigned first.
also asked a detective to investigate whether Hickman committed
criminal assault in the interaction, according to the timeline. That
investigation is ongoing.
demonstrated in this video are unacceptable and contrary to the
department's vision and the progress we have made in the last several
years in improving community trust," the police chief said in a
"Officers know that they
must earn the trust of our community by providing fair and respectful
service. That very clearly did not happen during the incident depicted
and for that I apologize to Mr. Rush, as well as the community," Hooper
'I can't breathe'
The body camera videopublished online by the Citizen-Times
begins as Hickman and an officer in training decide to get out of the
car and talk to Rush. They say in the video that they had just warned
him not to jaywalk.
got nothing better to do besides mess with me, and I'm trying to go
home," Rush says. "I just got off of work, man. I'm tired."
The officer in training says he saw Rush fail to use a crosswalk four times in a row.
was polite with you and asked you, use the crosswalk. I know what
you're doing man," the officer in training says. "You think I'm a punk.
Guess what, I'm not. I don't think you're a punk either."
officer in training says he can either arrest Rush or write him a
ticket. After more words are exchanged, the officer in training begins
to write a ticket.
"Ya'll ain't got s--- better to do besides harass somebody about f---ing walking," Rush says.
Hickman then tells Rush to put his hands behind his back. As the officers approach, Rush flees.
officers catch up to him and tackle him to the ground. They order him
to put his hands behind his back, and he says he can't.
"I can't breathe! I can't breathe!"
picks up his stun gun and shoots Rush on the ground, who screams in
pain. The video shows Hickman putting his left hand around Rush's throat
and ordering him to put his hands behind his back.
"I can't!" Rush says.
'I beat the s--- out of his head'
Other officers arrive on the scene, and Rush is handcuffed on the ground.
"All this over you getting a ticket? Now it's serious, bro," Hickman says.
Hickman then begins yelling at Rush and asks him, "What's wrong with you?"
"Stop yelling at me," Rush says.
"Well, then get up and we'll put you in a car, tough boy," Hickman says.
Officers help Rush up, the video shows, and as Hickman moves him over to his patrol car, he pushes Rush's head down.
"Stop, man, you ain't got to do all of that," Rush says.
"Don't look at me with your spitty, blood face," Hickman responds.
"Yeah, because you've been hitting me in my face," Rush says.
"Yeah, you're right," Hickman says.
"So that give you the right to punch me in my face?" Rush says.
"Unfortunately, it is," officer says.
Hickman speaks with a supervisor on the scene about what happened. The
city manager identified the person as a supervisor.
started throwing a fit on the sidewalk. I told him to get his hands
behind his back, and it was on from there. (He) ran, laughing, saying
'f--- you,' 'can't wait til you catch me.' So we caught him," Hickman
"Then he wanted to fight. Tried
to drag the Taser out of my hand, and then I just went on his f---ing
head. I beat the s--- out of his head. Not gonna lie about that."
supervisor tasked with reviewing cases of use of force failed to
forward any information or notes from Hickman or Rush and did not review
the body camera footage, according to the City Council timeline. That
supervisor was disciplined and ordered to undergo more training.