A western North Carolina police officer who resigned after a body camera video shows him hitting and using a Taser on a man suspected of jaywalking will face preliminary charges of assault, the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
Senior Police Officer Christopher Hickman, 31, was removed from patrol duty a day after the incident last August and resigned from the Asheville Police Department in January, the same day he was to be terminated, according to a timeline of the case released by the Asheville City Council.
On Thursday, a judge issued a warrant for Hickman’s arrest on one count each of assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats.
Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer said Hickman has been taken into custody. It is unclear whether Hickman has an attorney.
CNN reached out to the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Asheville and didn’t receive an immediate comment.
The release of body cam video in late February caused outrage in this North Carolina city in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The video shows Hickman and an officer in training stopping Johnnie Jermaine Rush, then 32, for allegedly jaywalking in the early morning hours of August 25, 2017.
After initial words were exchanged, Hickman moves to arrest Rush, who then flees on foot, according to video of the incident published by the Asheville Citizen-Times on February 28.
“(He) thinks it’s funny,” Hickman is heard saying as he chases Rush. “You know what’s funny is you’re gonna get f—ed up hardcore.”
The officers catch Rush and tackle him. As Rush is being restrained on the ground, Hickman punches him in the head several times, shoots him with a stun gun and chokes him.
“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Rush repeatedly yells. “Help! Help!”
Later in the video, Hickman speaks with another officer.
“I beat the s— out of his head,” Hickman says. “Not gonna lie about that.”
The violent arrest is one of several videotaped instances in recent years that have generated anger and public debate about police use of force.
Hickman did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Rush could not be reached for comment.
A spokesman for the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation said that the FBI has launched an investigation into the incident, according to the Citizen-Times. The US Department of Justice told CNN it never comments on whether there is an investigation.
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SOURCE: CNN, Eric Levenson and Chris Boyette