Bodycam videos related to police beating of jaywalking suspect released

The city of Asheville, North Carolina, has released “disturbing, difficult to watch” videos from nine body-worn cameras related to the beating and tasing of a man who was suspected of jaywalking, the city said.

“This incident has created a loss of trust within the community, particularly among people of color. The City of Asheville understands that there is substantial work to do to restore the public’s trust,” the city said.

CNN is reviewing the videos.

A Buncombe County Superior Court Judge granted the city’s petition to release the video, which will be made public Monday at 2 p.m. The city asked to release the videos “in the interest of transparency,” the city said on its website.

The footage is likely to provide greater insight into the August 2017 arrest of Johnnie Jermaine Rush, a man beaten and tased by an Asheville police officer who suspected him of jaywalking.

Senior police officer Christopher Hickman, 31, was removed from patrol duty a day after the incident. He resigned from the department in January, the same day that he was to be terminated, according to a timeline of the case released by the city council.

Video of the arrest recorded by Hickman’s body camera was published by the Asheville Citizen-Times on February 28, setting off outrage in the western North Carolina city. The newspaper has not revealed how it obtained the video.

Hickman was taken into custody on March 8 and charged with one count each of assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats, the city said.

CNN telephoned and emailed Hickman’s attorney on Monday afternoon but has not heard back from him.

It’s unclear which officers wore the nine body cameras or when the video was shot.

What Hickman’s video showed

That video begins as Hickman and his partner stop Rush, then 32, for allegedly jaywalking in the early morning hours of August 25, 2017. After some initial words are exchanged, Hickman moves to arrest Rush, who then flees on foot.

“(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 to the ground. As Rush is being restrained on the ground, Hickman punches him in the head several times, shoots him with a stun gun and puts his hand around Rush’s neck.

“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Rush repeatedly yells. “Help! Help!”

Later in the video, Hickman speaks with another officer on the scene.

“I beat the s— out of his head,” Hickman says. “Not gonna lie about that.”

The ACLU of North Carolina was one of a number of organizations and residents that criticized the officer’s actions.

“There is no excuse for what happened to Johnnie Rush,” the ACLU of North Carolina said in a tweet. “Police must protect and serve everyone, regardless of race. Instead, a Black man gets beaten, tased, and choked over jaywalking. That’s right, jaywalking.”

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer apologized last month to Rush in a statement on behalf of the City Council.

“The City Council and I immediately contacted city administration to express our outrage at the treatment of Mr. Rush and our outrage of not being informed about the actions of APD officers,” Manheimer wrote. “We will have accountability and, above all, transparency.”