Charges Filed Against Asheville Cop Who Beat, Tased Man for Jaywalking

A former police officer in North Carolina was arrested and is facing assault charges after body camera video appears to show him beating a man for jaywalking.

The officer, Christopher Hickman, who is shown in the video beating and Tasering the man, Johnnie Jermaine Rush, was charged Thursday with assault by strangulation, a felony, and assault inflicting serious injury, a misdemeanor, said Todd Williams, the district attorney of Buncombe County.

Christopher William Hickman, who resigned from the Asheville Police Department in January, is facing charges of felony assault by strangulation and misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats in connection to the August 25 incident, the Buncombe District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Who leaked that bodycam video to the Citizen Times newspaper? Officer Chris Hickman tells Rush to put his hands behind his back. Hickman beat, choked and shocked Rush with a stun gun.

Describing the threat charge, it also notes that Hickman can be heard saying to Rush: "You're going to get f--d up hardcore".

Blake characterizes Rush, the victim, as "an incredibly humble grateful man".

In the video, Ruggiero can be seen telling Rush that he had failed to use a crosswalk four times, to which Rush replies, "All I'm trying to do is go home, man".

At several points, while pinned to the ground, Rush cried, "I can't breathe!"

A supervisor who responded to the scene on the night of Rush's arrest was disciplined for unsatisfactory performance after failing to immediately disclose all the details gleaned from interviewing Hickman and Rush, and neglecting to view the body camera footage that day. They also questioned why the footage was not released earlier.

The statement added that the city council would be calling for an audit of the Asheville Police Department and the staff's decision-making process related to its failure in notifying council members about the incident.

While the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Wednesday that it had opened an investigation of Hickman's actions, Ruggiero is reportedly not being investigated in connection with Rush's beating and arrest. It was not until January that the criminal investigation began, the results of which are expected to be given to the district attorney next week.

Prior to the Thursday announcement, the City of Asheville had filed a petition to have the body camera footage released.

The mayor and City Council said they did not know of the incident before the video emerged. Only about 12 percent of the population is black. "The issue is because we have been beaten down, we have all be obliterated, we have all been talked to like dogs, like trash, we're not valued and we have no voice in this city". "We can be better".

Of the story, which was picked up by the New York Times and other national outlets, Blake says: "It's a big one for us and it's still developing".

  • Joey Payne