Asheville city council is scheduled to meet twice on Tuesday, its first regularly scheduled meetings since the release of a body camera video that showed a then-city police officer beating an unarmed black man last year.
The council met last Monday in closed session to release personnel documents related to the investigation of the incident involving officer Chris Hickman, who's white. He resigned in January and currently faces three charges, including one felony assault count. Video published by the Asheville Citizen-Times showed Hickman beating, choking, and shocking with a stun gun Johnnie Jermaine Rush last August along Short Coxe Avenue. Hickman and an officer in training had stopped Rush for suspected jaywalking. Charges against Rush were dropped in September. The criminal investigation into Hickman - conducted by Asheville police - did not start until after he resigned. The FBI has launched its own inquiry into the incident, which likely will focus on whether Rush's civil rights were violated.
The first meeting Tuesday is a joint gathering between the Asheville city council and Buncombe County commissioners. That starts at 3 p.m. The city council then meets alone at 5 p.m. Asheville's Racial Justice Coalition is scheduled to give a presentation at the city council meeting. The coalition is made up of several public and private sector groups and has been studying ways the police department can improve relationships with the Asheville's African-American community. At a meeting of the city's Citizens Police Advisory Committee last Wednesday, several African-American residents expressed their outrage at Asheville police and the lengthy timeframe from when the August incident occurred to Hickman's resignation to the video's publication - which only occurred because it was leaked to the Citizen-Times. Police body camera footage is not public record in North Carolina.
LOCAL F.O.P. LODGE DAMAGED
Asheville police say a suspect damaged the lodge of the local Fraternal Order of Police early Monday morning. Police released a video capture of the suspect, who spray-painted 'BLACK LIVES MATTER' on the front of the lodge. Police also say the suspect damaged a security camera and smashed the windows of an F.O.P. van. The local F.O.P. has 300 officers as members according to its website.
D.A. DROPS SEVERAL CASES INVESTIGATED BY HICKMAN
Buncombe County district attorney Todd Williams announced Monday 27 cases involving 17 defendants that were investigated by former Asheville police officer Chris Hickman have been dismissed.
In a statement, Williams said Hickman is no longer considered a 'credible state's witness' following the charges that were filed against him for the August beating incident. Williams added his office will also go back over any cases that resulted in a conviction where Hickman was the charging police officer between August of last year and March of this year.