One North Carolina cop senselessly beat a man in a street last August, dash cam footage from an Asheville police investigation revealed this week.
Johnnie Jermaine Rush, 33, was punched in the head, restrained, held to the ground and shocked twice with a stun gun for only walking across a parking lot in Asheville on August 24, the Asheville Citizen Times reported. The man, who is Black, uttered the late Eric Garner‘s last words: “I can’t breathe.” However, no mercy was afforded to him by Officer Chris Hickman, who is White. Rush was suspected of jaywalking and trespassing.
The assault makes our blood boil, a sensation that people of color have known well with the dozens of police shootings and brutality cases in recent years. We are outraged.
Rush’s bruises stand as striking evidence against police brutality, and nothing has tempered his pain about the violent incident.
The case did lead to Hickman, who had actually been awarded a department medal of honor for actions taken in 2014, leaving the department sometime before Jan. 19, according to a memo obtained by the Citizen Times. An investigation was also launched into the attack last month.
The question still remains why Hickman thought excessive force was okay. Rush had been stopped for jaywalking at a street corner with light traffic that night. This particular street corner was known to be a place for dozens of pedestrians to cross without using the crosswalk, but yet, an example was made out of Rush, who had just finished a 13-hour work shift that night.
When an officer with Hickman confronted Rush, he threatened to issue a ticket or arrest him after a warning about jaywalking. The man, who felt harassed, was told to assume the position, but took off running in fear. The encounter with the two officers ended with Rush restrained and on the ground.
And the man was actually charged in the beating!
Thankfully, charges of assault on a government official; resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer, trespass and traffic offenses against Rush were dismissed by the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office on Sept. 18. The investigation into Hickman’s actions is still ongoing.
The video in the case is not a matter of public record and can only be obtained by a court order, the Independent Weekly noted. However, many folks feel the footage should be released to the public. How would people be able to hold this officer and his department accountable and push for reform otherwise?