Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper Resigning Effective Jan. 2nd

Nov 7, 2018

Asheville police Tammy Hooper will resign her post.  Her last day with the department will be January 2nd, 2019.  According to a press release put out Wednesday morning by Asheville interim city manager Cathy Ball, Hooper is resigning to pursue consulting opportunities.

According to Wednesday morning's release, Hooper gave notice of her resignation in February of this year to then city manager Gary Jackson to pursue consulting opportunities.  At the end of that month, body camera footage of a then Asheville police officer choking and shocking an unarmed black pedestrian with a stun gun was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times, which then published it.  The revelation of the video shook Asheville, as city council removed Jackson from his post, and Hooper's handling of the case also came under heavy criticism.  Following Jackson's dismissal, Hooper decided to stay on until a new city manager was hired 'to provide strong leadership to the police department during a crucial time' according to Wednesday's press release.

Officer Chris Hickman was eventually charged with three crimes, including one felony assault charge.  The day after the beating occurred in August of 2017, Hickman was taken off street patrol and turned in his gun.  But he remained on the force until January, when he resigned at a metting where Hooper was preparing to fire him.  The delays lead the State Bureau of Investigation to decline conducting their own investigation into the beating, an examination that is typical following cases of officers using force.  Hooper defended her actions saying regulations limited how quickly should could act to remove Hickman from the force, and that she was able to get him to resign, ensuring Hickman could not take legal action to get his job back.

At a community meeting in March shortly after the video was made public, Hooper was asked if she would resign because of the Hickman case.  She responded by saying she would if it would make the situation better.  The majority of Asheville city council members continued to back her.  In the Wednesday morning press release, interim city manager Cathy Ball praised Hooper for pushing several initiatives during her time as chief, including de-escalation training for officers and new use of force policies.  Deputy police chief Wade Wood will act as the interim chief while a 'national search' is conducted for Hooper's replacement.  Ball says detailed of that search will be announced in the near future.