Additional videos of a white police officer in North Carolina beating, choking and using a Taser on a Black pedestrian suspected of jaywalking were released on Monday.
Christopher Hickman, a former officer with the Asheville Police Department, is seen in footage from last August beating Johnnie Jermaine Rush, taking him to the ground and choking him. In another video Hickman admitted to punching Rush repeatedly and using a Taser on him.
The Citizen Times obtained the original video in February and published additional videos on Monday. The publication did not state how it received the video, which had been recorded six months prior.
Verino Ruggerio, a trainee who was accompanying Hickman at the time, and Hickman approach Rush, and a verbal altercation ensues. Ruggerio says he can either arrest Rush or write him a ticket.
“Do what you gotta do, man, besides keep harassing me,” Rush says.
“That’s all in your mind, man,” Hickman interjects, then adds, “Just write him a ticket. He wants to act like a punk”
“Y’all ain’t got sh*t better to do besides harass somebody for f*cking walking,” Rush says. Rush initially starts walking away, taking a few steps away from the officers. Hickman repeatedly yells and commands him to stop.
“Okay, okay,” Rush says as he stops and walks back toward the officers. A struggle then begins and Rush runs away.
“He thinks it’s funny. What’s funny is you’re gonna get f*cked up hardcore,” Hickman says as he chases Rush. When Hickman catches Rush he takes him to the ground and Hickman starts punching him in the head.
“Put your hands behind your back,” he repeats in between blows. He is seen choking Rush with his arm as Rush says he can’t breathe, to which Hickman punches him again.
Rush is already laying on the ground when Hickman takes out his Taser and uses it on Rush numerous times.
Hickman continues barking commands at Rush, who is yelling in pain and saying he is physically unable to comply.
Hickman was removed from duty a day after the violent arrest and left the force in January on the same day he was scheduled to be terminated. In March he was charged with assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats, according to the city.
Sgt. Lisa Taube also received a lot of backlash for her handling of the incident. In one video Rush asks Taube, “What would have happened if he had killed me Then what”
“You were in the wrong. You were told by an officer you’re under arrest. You resist and do not comply and you run away,” Taube says.
Rush says that nothing that occurred gave the officer the right to hit him in the face repeatedly. Taube asks if Rush complied, touched the officers or reached for a Taser. Rush asks how he could have when he was being choked and restrained.
According to the city of Asheville, Taube was disciplined for her “unsatisfactory performance” that night and had to complete a retraining.
Another video shows Hickman and Rush talking at the hospital after the incident.
“No disrespect with you sir, I understand that I ran and whatnot, but you didn’t have to keep punching me and choking me,” Rush tells Hickman.
Hickman argues that he did because Rush “never complied with my order.”
“How, when you’re choking me, how can I” Rush asks.
“I didn’t start choking you til after I probably punched you 10 times,” Hickman says.
He later tells Rush “this is 100 percent the least favorite part of my job, because right now we could be going, hanging out at the club, checking out the pretty ladies and making sure people don’t fight. But now we gotta do this. Like, I hate doing this. This is a ton of f*cking work for both of us.”
“Both of us” refers to Verino Ruggerio, a trainee who was accompanying Hickman at the time of the incident.
In a February interview with the Citizen Times Rush said that Hickman used a racial slur against him outside the hospital and was abusive toward him.
According to the U.S. Census, Asheville, N.C., is more than three-quarters white, 12.2 percent Black, 5.7 percent Hispanic, 2.1 percent Asian and 2 percent two or more races.