By Bruce Henderson The Charlotte Observer
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — No federal charges will be filed against a former Asheville police officer whose violent arrest of a jaywalking suspect, captured on a leaked video, rattled the mountain city and made national headlines.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray, who’s based in Charlotte, said former Officer Christopher Hickman won’t be charged after an investigation into his arrest of Johnnie Rush last August.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a thorough and independent review of all evidence related to this case,” Murray said in a statement Friday. “After careful examination, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has determined that the evidence does not give rise to a prosecutable violation of the federal criminal civil rights laws.”
In March, the district attorney for Asheville had brought criminal charges against Hickman for assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats.
Body camera video obtained by Asheville’s Citizen-Times showed a second Asheville police officer warning Rush about repeatedly jaywalking at the beginning of the incident. Rush could be heard cursing after being given the option of receiving a citation or being arrested.
After being told to put his hands behind his back, Rush ran. Hickman, giving chase, said, “You are going to get f—ed up hard core.” Rush complained after being taken to the ground and shocked with a stun gun that “I can’t breathe” and screams for help.
An administrative investigation found Hickman used excessive force, and he resigned from the force in January. Charges against Rush were dropped.
Amid public protests over the incident, police Chief Tammy Hooper offered to resign “if that will solve the problem,” the Citizen-Times reported. In March, she issued a public apology. “The acts 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,” it said.
©2018 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)