Author: Force Science Institute
By PoliceOne Staff
RALEIGH, N.C. — A former police officer was charged with felony assault in a use-of-force incident captured on video.
The Associated Press reports former Asheville Officer Christopher Hickman was arrested on Thursday – nearly two weeks after body camera footage of Hickman’s August 2017 encounter with Johnnie Jermaine Rush was leaked. The video appears to show Hickman subduing and punching Rush, who fled from the officer after being accused of jaywalking.
The Aug. 25 encounter occurred shortly after the Asheville PD implemented a UOF policy that included de-escalating tense situations. Rush was stopped after officers accused him of crossing outside a crosswalk near a minor league ballpark and several breweries popular with tourists.
According to an arrest warrant for Hickman, Rush sustained head abrasions and swelling and lost consciousness during the encounter. The video sparked outrage, with many in the community asking why the department didn’t launch a criminal investigation for months.
During a police advisory board meeting, many residents demanded further actions in addition to apologies, according to the Citizen Times. Police Chief Tammy Hooper said she would be “happy to resign if that will solve the problem” during the meeting.
Hooper said she put Hickman on administrative duty and started an administrative review after the encounter. According to city documents, Hickman’s supervisor didn’t immediately review footage on the scene and didn’t give interview notes to superiors in a timely manner.
After reviewing nearly 60 hours of Hickman’s body cam footage, the department found four instances of rude behavior from Hickman to members of the public. In December, the administrative review ended, and an outside criminal investigation wasn’t sought until January. Hickman resigned in January.
The State Bureau of Investigation declined to lead the probe, citing the time lapse. The FBI is also conducting a criminal investigation on Hickman.
Hickman faces several charges, including assault by strangulation.