Newly released body cam footage of an alleged police beating in Asheville, N.C. shows an officer putting a man in a chokehold after stopping him for jaywalking.
The City of Asheville released nine bodycam videos Monday for the case involving Johnnie Jermaine Rush following a court order, following a court order. A few weeks ago, a portion of that bodycam footage was leaked by the Citizen-Times in Asheville, but now it appears the full visual story is out there.
The full footage, from various officers' body cams, shows Officer Chris Hickman allegedly using force on Rush after trying to arrest him for jaywalking and trespassing. One of the body cams is from Hickman and offers his point of view. Only a portion of Hickman's body cam was previously released by the Citizen-Times. The other body-worn cameras, released this week, appear to clearly show Hickman punching and choking Rush.
Rush was approached for allegedly walking across the parking lot of a closed business. In the videos, he argues with an officer who claims he was trespassing.
“You ain’t got nothing better to do than to mess with me,” Rush says after an officer claims he just committed four crimes at once. Rush, appearing tired, says he just got out of work and he appears tired.
“I’m trying to go home,” he says in the clip.
“You didn’t use a crosswalk four times in a row,” the cop tells him.
“All I’m trying to do is go home. I’m tired. I just got out of work.”
Rush accuses the cop of harassing him. Hickman tells Rush, “That’s all in your mind, man.”
When Rush says, “you ain’t got nothing better to do but harass someone about f**king walking,” Hickman approaches him, telling him to put his hands behind his back. Soon he is chasing Rush while saying, "You are going to get f***ed up hardcore."
Soon, Hickman can be seen allegedly punching Rush in the head while he is restrained by Hickman and another officer. Rush is panicked and repeatedly states that he can’t breathe. He was reportedly shocked with a stun-gun twice while on the ground, according to the Citizen Times. Rush told the publication that he was taken to the hospital where Hickman, who is white, called him a racial slur.
In body cam footage from Sgt. Lisa Tabue, taken after the altercation, Rush tells her he is hurting.
"After I ran, I literally stopped, ma'am, and he's telling me to get on the ground. As I'm getting on the ground, he bull-rushed me, bowled me to the ground and started choking me to the point I'm coughing up blood and throw-up."
The footage released this week appears to show Hickman putting Rush in a chokehold, and the aftermath of Rush being tased.
The City of Ashville says Hickman used dangerous and excessive force against Rush and that he has since resigned from the police department before he could be terminated. He nows faces state criminal charges, including felony assault by strangulation, misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats. He appeared in court on Monday to be charged and after his brief appearance, his attorney issued a statement in which he said he expects Hickman to be acquitted. Hickman is also being investigated for federal civil rights charges.
"This incident has created a loss of trust within the community, particularly among people of color," Interim City Manager Cathy Paul and Police Chief Tammy Hooper said in a joint statement. "The City of Asheville understands that there is substantial work to do to restore the public’s trust."
[Photo: Asheville Police Department]