The FBI is investigating a North Carolina police officer for the bloody beating of a black man on foot he accused of jaywalking.
On Thursday, the officer, Hickman, was arrested and charged with felony assault by strangulation, as well as misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats, the newspaper's Joel Burgess reported.
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. The delay in making the footage public also shows that body camera technology being adopted across the country can't always guarantee the level of transparency many have hoped for. "You're gonna get f-- up hardcore".
The camera recorded Hickman saying "he's not learning!" before a trainee confronts Johnnie Jermaine Rush for jaywalking. The criminal investigation into Hickman's actions did not start until after he resigned, and wrapped up a week after the video of the beating was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times, which first published it and made the incident public. "A second state investigation would likely duplicate much of the results of the ongoing federal investigation".
"(He) thinks it's amusing", Hickman can be heard saying during the chase.
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". Hickman proceeded to savagely beat Rush, slamming his face on the pavements and repeatedly punching his head, while Ruggiero pinned him to the ground.
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An arrest warrant for Hickman notes that he struck Rush multiple times, causing abrasions and swelling to his head.
On Sept. 15, 2017, Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams dropped all charges against Rush. He said 58 hours of footage was reviewed and "revealed four other instances where Hickman displayed discourteous and rude conduct to members of the public". CBS News was unable to reach Hickman or Rush.
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.
Hooper met with Hickman on January 5 with plans to fire him, but Hickman resigned first. Sergeant Taube was disciplined for "unsatisfactory performance" after failing to disclose information she obtained during her interview with Rush and to review body camera footage that day.
The city did not provide contact information for Hickman.
During a community meeting Wednesday night, many Asheville residents said Hickman should have been arrested and charged with assault. He resigned instead at the beginning of a January meeting where he was scheduled to be terminated.
"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.