Petition: City of Asheville wants body cam video released in 'ex - FOX Carolina 21

Petition: City of Asheville wants body cam video released in 'excessive' use of force arrest

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(file photo | Associated Press) (file photo | Associated Press)
ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

The City of Asheville has filed a petition to the have body camera footage released in a police case officials claim involved excessive use of force.

According to the petition, officers with the Asheville Police Department encountered a possible trespassing suspect near Biltmore Avenue on Aug. 24, 2017. According to city officials, portions of the body cam footage from the arrest show use of force in the case was "clearly excessive."

The man was arrested and charged with second-degree trespassing and resisting a public officer, but charges were later dismissed when district attorney learned of the circumstances of his arrest, the document states.

The petition alleges that a former Asheville officer involved in the incident displayed "aggressive and unprofessional behavior and language" prompting anger from officials and the community after a copy of the video was released by an unknown source to a newspaper.

The city said Asheville Police Department is not allowed to release body-worn camera recordings without a court order, so the petition seeks to have Buncombe County Superior Court order the video be released.

The city said they believe full disclosure of the incident should be provided to the public.

Personnel information released

On Monday, the Asheville City Council voted to support the City Manager's release of personnel information related to the investigation.

In the resolution they say the information "is essential to maintaining public confidence in the administration of city services [and] to maintaining the level and quality of city services."

Here is a time line of the personnel information released, per city officials:

  1. August 25, 2017, shortly after midnight: Video shows APD Officer using excessive and dangerous force to arrest Johnnie Rush near Biltmore Avenue. Trainee officer also present.
    • Complaint made of excessive force by Officer against Johnnie Rush.
    • Chief Tammy Hooper reviewed body camera footage and immediately put Officer on administrative leave.
    • Chief Hooper informed City Attorney's Office of incident as well as the Interim Assistant City Manager.
    • A supervisor was called out to the excessive force incident, but did not immediately review the body camera footage, nor did he report the interviews with officer and Rush in which officer admitted to hitting Rush in the head with a taser and Rush saying he was choked. The supervisor was disciplined and required to undergo additional training. 
  2. September 15, 2017: APD took a copy of the footage to District Attorney Todd Williams. Williams agreed all charges against Rush should be dismissed. Williams also learned the APD Professional Standards Unit was conducting an administrative investigation into the incident.
    • Chief Hooper orders administrative investigation into all footage captured by officer's body camera during his encounters with the public.
    • More than 58 hours worth of footage uncovered "rude and discourteous behavior" violating APD's policies on four occasions.
    • Administrative investigation into Rush arrest concluded officer engaged in excessive force, as well as unbecoming conduct and failing to meet responsibilities of duty.
  3. On or about December 15, 2017: Results of both investigations are completed and sent to division commander. Then went on for deputy chief's review which was completed on the 17th.
  4. December 19, 2017: Chief Hooper asks District Attorney Williams to review the recording a second time, with addition of another officer's camera angle, to determine if conduct rose to level of criminal offense.
  5. December 27, 2017: Chief Hooper ordered the Professional Standards Unit to schedule a per-disciplinary conference.
    • Officer placed on investigative suspension.
  6. January 2, 2017: Pre-disciplinary conference took place.
    • Chief Hooper decided Officer's employment would be terminated.
  7. January 5, 2017: Officer elected to resign before Chief Hooper provided officer with written decision to terminate.
  8. January 10, 2017: District Attorney Williams requested APD to ask SBI to initiate criminal investigation as to whether officer had committed assault .
  9. January 12, 2017: SBI declines investigation based on completion of internal investigation and resignation of officer.
  10. January 18, 2017: Per the district attorney's request, Chief Hooper assigned the criminal case to an APD detective. The investigation is nearly complete and the APD expects to submit the case to the DA within the next week to decide whether officer will be criminally prosecuted.
  11. February 28, 2018: Body cam footage released by news outlet.
  12. March 1, 2018: Mayor releases statement apologizing to Rush regarding his treatment by the APD.
  13. March 5, 2018: City Council files petition to order release of additional APD body-camera footage.
    • City Council votes to support City Manager's release of personnel information related to the APD investigation

On March 7th, the Citizens/Police Advisory Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the investigation. A hotline has been established for community members to share comments on the use of force incident. Those recorded comments will be sent to the committee. The phone number to call to submit a comment is 828-259-5900.

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