After months of investigations by both state and federal officials, the city of Asheville, North Carolina on Tuesday finally released bodycam footage showing police offers brutally beating, choking, and stunning a black man they accused of jaywalking in August of last year.
While walking home from a shift at the local Cracker Barrel, Johnnie Rush was stopped by several police officers for allegedly crossing the street without using the crosswalk.
“All I’m trying to do is go home, man,” Rush tells police officer in training Verino Ruggiero, who stopped Rush and accused him of committing “four crimes in a row.”
After several minutes of back-and-forth, officer Christopher Hickman moved to place Rush under arrest. Rush then began to flee, but officers quickly ran him down and began to tase and punch him in the head repeatedly.
“I can’t breathe,” Rush said as officers handcuffed him on the pavement, echoing the words of Eric Garner, who died shortly after being placed in a chokehold by a New York City police officer in 2014.
Watch (warning: some may find the following video disturbing):
Hickman resigned in January just before being fired for violating the Asheville Police Department’s use-of-force policy. He is currently facing several charges, including felony assault by strangulation.
All charges against Rush were ultimately dropped.
“What happened in these recordings is unacceptable and does not meet the standards of the Asheville Police Department, the values of the City of Asheville, or the expectations of Asheville residents,” the City of Asheville said in a statement released alongside the videos on Tuesday. “Christopher Hickman, who used dangerous and excessive force against Johnnie Rush, was quickly taken off the street, and subsequently resigned from the police department before he was terminated. He currently faces state criminal charges, and is the subject of a federal civil rights investigation.”
In total, nine videos were released by the city on Monday, all of which depict different angles and periods of the incident.