Former Asheville officer in leaked bodycam footage charged with assault

Christopher Hickman (WLOS photo)

Authorities said Thursday a former Asheville police officer has been charged in the case of a man who was beaten during an arrest for jaywalking.

Christopher Hickman, 31, has been charged with assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats for the Aug. 24, 2017, use-of-force incident that was caught on bodycam footage, which was obtained by the Citizen-Times.

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Local Fraternal Order of Police President Rondell Lance hopes these charges are the first step in helping the community move forward.

"At the FOP, we believe in justice and due process," Lance said. "We hope that it's carried out in this incident, and we hope this can begin the dialogue and the healing of our community."

Police body camera video showed a strong use of force by an Asheville police officer during the jaywalking arrest of Johnnie Rush near the corner of Biltmore and Short Coxe avenues.

In the video, an officer can be seen punching Rush on the back of the head several times as he was being restrained and arrested. The video also shows Rush getting tased after he fled from police.

"I hope the community realizes this is not an example of all the men and women in the police department," Lance said. "It's a good department, they try hard everyday and I hope they don't judge everybody by this one officer."

The Buncombe County District Attorney's Office tweeted the news at about 7:30 p.m., and the Asheville Police Department retweeted the information about five minutes later.

According to the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office website, Hickman's bond was set at $10,000 unsecured.

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