Asheville city council meets Tuesday evening for the first time in a month, and items related the city’s police department headline the agenda.
Last weekend was the one-year anniversary of the beating of Johnnie Rush on Asheville’s South Side by a then city police officer. It didn’t come to public light until six months later after footage of the incident from a police body camera was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times, which then published it. The officer involved, Chris Hickman, resigned from the force in January and was charged in March on three counts, including one for felony assault.
The beating and its aftermath have dominated city politics ever since the video became public. City council members Tuesday will formally approve a financial settlement from the city with Rush of $650-thousand, as well as accept a report from an outside consultant that reviewed the Asheville police department and its handling of the case. That consultant is 21st CP Solutions, which hails itself as the 'preeminent team of thought leaders and change agents in modern policing.' "(We want) to understand the before, during, and after of this incident," mayor Esther Manheimer said during a speech to the Leadership Asheville Forum last week. "What happened, where did we fail, where did we do it right, and what recommedations would they make for us in terms of changes needed."
Council members might also discuss their recent trip to Durham, where they met with police officials to discuss Durham’s policy requiring officers to get written consent for vehicle searches when there is no probable cause for a search. Asheville city council approved having a similar policy earlier this year, but details of it have yet to be written.