The Asheville Police Department released the set of nine videos, taken from police-issued body cameras, where officer Christopher Hickman reprimands a man named Johnnie Rush for jaywalking. However, a comment made by Rush angers Hickman.
“Just write him a ticket. He wants to act like a punk,” Hickman said in the footage, before he changed his mind. “He thinks it’s funny. You know what’s funny is you’re gonna get fucked up hardcore. Get on the ground.”
Though the incident occurred in August 2017, it took six months for the video footage to be publicized. Hickman was apprehended in March on a felony charge of assault by strangulation, plus misdemeanor counts of assault and communicating threats, according to The Washington Post.
Following the encounter, Hickman was fired by the Asheville Police Department; the city’s website described him as using “dangerous and excessive force against Johnnie Rush” and said that Hickman was “quickly taken off the street.”
“Christopher Hickman’s actions violated the Asheville Police Department’s vision that all people are treated with dignity and respect. These actions have damaged the progress the Asheville Police Department has made in the last several years in improving community trust,” a statement from the City of Asheville read.
However, Hickman’s lawyer maintains that the former police officer is innocent.
The incident happened after Asheville began employing the use-of-force policy, which includes “training on de-escalating tense situations,” per The Hill. However, it can clearly be seen on camera that Hickman completely disregarded the policy. Hickman’s arrest warrant revealed that Rush endured head abrasions and swelling, and that he went unconscious when Hickman choked him with his arm.