A day after North Carolina’s top law-enforcement agency said the FBI was investigating the bloody beating of a black man in August by a white Asheville, N.C., police officer, the county’s district attorney filed criminal charges against the former policeman.
A day after North Carolina’s top law-enforcement agency said that the FBI was investigating the bloody beating of a black man in August by a white Asheville, N.C., police officer, the county’s district attorney filed criminal charges against the former policeman, reports the Asheville Citizen Times. Former officer Chris Hickman, 31, was arrested Thursday on charges of felony assault by strangulation and two misdemeanor charges, said District Attorney Todd Williams of Buncombe County. Hickman is accused of beating, using a stun gun and choking Johnnie Rush, 33, after Rush was stopped last Aug. 24 for allegedly jaywalking and trespassing through the parking lot of a business that was closed for the night.
Body camera video that the Citizen Times obtained Feb. 28 shows Hickman punching Rush in the head while Hickman and another officer restrained Rush. In the video from a camera Hickman wore, Rush said several times while he was restrained that he could not breathe. At one point, Rush’s face can be seen with what appear to be hands on his throat. Rush also was shocked twice with a stun gun while being held on the ground. Last week the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation said it would not investigate because city police had waited five months to contact them and already had conducted a non-criminal internal investigation. FBI agents visited Rush in January and interviewed him for more than hour. Asheville is about 100 miles northwest of Charlotte. At a Citizen/Police Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday, Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper said firings in her department were coming and she would resign if residents demand it. Hickman resigned in January.