Asheville, North Carolina’s police chief will not step down after saying in March she would resign to reduce the distrust that the city’s Black community has her department.
Police Chief Tammy Hooper, who’s at the center of an alleged attempt to cover up a brutal police beating of a Black man, backpedaled in an interview on Friday with WUNC radio. Handing in her resignation would accomplish nothing because the police trust issues are bigger than her, Hooper stated.
“The community relations, the history we have in Asheville, regarding the relationship and the trust issues we have, not just between police and our African-American community, but really the whole government and our African-American community,” she said. “And those things go back 50 years. So, the pain and the outrage, the things that you hear are really long-standing issues in this community.”
Johnnie Jermaine Rush, 33, was punched in the head, restrained, held to the ground and shocked twice with a stun gun for jaywalking in August, the Asheville Citizen Times reported. Former Officer Chris Hickman, who is White, now faces charges of felony assault.
Residents and members of the City Council learned about the assault six months after the beating—only after body camera footage was leaked to the Citizen Times. Hooper sat on the video for months without launching a criminal investigation. Naturally, release of the video ignited outrage and only deepened the distrust of the police department. Black folks shared stories about instances of police brutality and vented their anger at the March 7 public hearing.
Hooper told angry residents that she would resign “if that will solve the problem,” adding “If you want me to resign, it is as simple as that,” the newspaper reported.
She’s now given the Black community more reason not to trust her word.