Crime

NC police chief apologizes after video of officer allegedly beating jaywalking suspect

FILE PHOTO
FILE PHOTO Getty Images/iStockphoto

The chief of the Asheville Police Department issued a public apology Thursday morning regarding a video showing a former officer allegedly using excessive force against a jaywalking suspect.

The video was taken late at night on Aug. 24 near downtown, according to the Asheville Citizen Times. It begins with Officer Verino Ruggiero warning local resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush about repeated jaywalking.

After Rush is given the option of a citation or being arrested, he can be heard cursing out of frustration. Officer Chris Hickman tells Rush to put his hands behind his back. Rush then runs, and Hickman is heard in the video during the chase saying “You are going to get (f*****) up hard core.”

Rush, who is black, says several times he cannot breathe after being taken to the ground and stunned with a stun gun. Hickman, who is white, is shown punching Rush in the head while he is being restrained.

Hickman resigned prior to Jan. 19, according to the Citizen Times report.

“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,” police Chief Tammy Hooper said in a statement the department released on Twitter.

Hooper continued: “Officers know that they must earn the trust of our community by providing fair and respectful service. That very clearly did not happen during the incident depicted and for that I apologize to Mr. Rush, as well as the community.”

A criminal investigation into Hickman’s actions is underway. Ruggiero is not being investigated, according to the Citizen Times.

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