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City of Asheville releases bodycam videos of arrest leading to strangulation, assault charges against officer

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Bodycam footage shows arrest of Johnnie Rush (Source: City of Asheville) Bodycam footage shows arrest of Johnnie Rush (Source: City of Asheville)
Christopher Hickman (file/FOX Carolina) Christopher Hickman (file/FOX Carolina)
ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

The City of Asheville released nine videos from officer body-worn cameras in an arrest that led to charges against a former Asheville police officer.

Officer Christopher Hickman was charged with assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats for his actions during an arrest in August 2017.

City Council issued a statement saying Hickman's actions displayed "clearly excessive" force when arresting a man accused of jaywalking on Biltmore Avenue.

The city petitioned for the Buncombe County Superior Court to release the videos of the incident "in the interest of public accountability and transparency."

GRAPHIC: City of Asheville releases bodycam footage from use of force arrest

In a recording taken from the bodycam of Hickman, officers approached Johnnie Rush, the man who they said crossed the street without using the crosswalk four times.

After Hickman tries to detain Rush, a foot chase ensues. While running, Hickman can be heard saying in the video, "You know what's funny, is you're going to get [expletive] up hardcore."

During the apprehension, Hickman uses his stun gun to take Rush to the ground where the video shows Rush being punched in the head while he says he can't breathe.

GRAPHIC: Bodycam video shows police use stun gun on man in use of force case

When approached by Sgt. Lisa Taube, a supervisor who began conducting a preliminary investigation, Hickman tells her Rush tried to take the stun gun from him.

"We caught him. He wanted to fight, tried to drag the Taser out of my hand," Hickman said. "I beat the [expletive] out of his head. Not going to lie about that."

Hickman says he has Rush's blood on him in the video. He also admits to hitting Rush in the face with his Taser "as if it was a club" approximately three times.

"I punched him in the face with it about as hard as I could," Hickman says on camera. "That's why his eye looks like that."

Rush describes his whole body as being in pain after being beaten and choked by the officer to the point of coughing up blood and vomiting. He tells Taube that he does not believe the actions used against him were appropriate.

GRAPHIC: Asheville officer describes beating jaywalking suspect with Taser like a club

According to the city, Taube "ultimately received disciplinary action for poor performance, and was ordered to undergo remedial training in connection with this incident."

Hickman was removed from patrol duty after the incident and later resigned from the department on the day he was expected to be terminated.

Charges against Rush were dismissed.

Asheville City Council issued a statement on the video saying they were angry, like many in the community, after seeing the videos.

"We are angry that a black man walking home from a long day at work was stopped for jaywalking — something most of us do regularly without consequence," the statement said. "We are angry that Johnnie Rush was attacked, beaten, choked and tased by a white police officer in violation of City policy and common decency."

On Monday, city officials said the incident has created a loss of trust in the community and that there is "substantial work to do to restore the public's trust."


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