Former North Carolina Police Officer Who Beat Black Man Is Charged With Assault

Christopher Hickman was removed from patrol duty a day after the incident last summer.
Christopher Hickman was removed from patrol duty a day after the incident last summer.

A former North Carolina police officer who was caught on video beating a black man in August has been charged with two counts of assault, a state district attorney said Friday.

The officer, Christopher Hickman, who is shown in the video beating and Tasering the man, Johnnie Jermaine Rush, was charged Thursday with assault by strangulation, a felony, and assault inflicting serious injury, a misdemeanor, said Todd Williams, the district attorney of Buncombe County.

Officer Hickman was also charged with a second misdemeanor, for threatening Mr. Rush.

The charges came after the video, which was obtained by The Citizen Times and released in a story last month, caused an outcry in Asheville, the county seat of Buncombe County and the largest city in Western North Carolina.

“The city is in outrage,” Councilwoman Sheneika Smith told The New York Times in an interview on Wednesday.

The video shows Mr. Rush being approached by an officer in training, Verino Ruggiero, shortly after midnight on Aug. 25, 2017. Officer Ruggiero then accuses Mr. Rush of jaywalking, and Mr. Rush says that he is trying to go home.

As the clip continues, Officer Ruggiero says that he will be compelled to arrest Mr. Rush or write him a ticket. He is then joined by Officer Hickman, who was training Officer Ruggiero that night.

Officer Hickman orders Mr. Rush to put his hands behind his back. Mr. Rush runs and the officers tackle him to the ground. The video shows Officer Hickman repeatedly striking Mr. Rush on the head and Mr. Rush crying out after being shocked with a stun gun.

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The New York Times