Asheville Police

'We Proved That We Can': Pandemic Speeds Criminal Justice Reforms

May 5, 2020
Buncombe County Sheriff's Office

Coronavirus has led to dramatic changes in crime and justice in Asheville from the courtroom to the cop on the street.

Reported crimes are down, police are making fewer arrests and inmates are being sprung from jail.

Asheville’s new police chief is resigning after less than two months on the job.  The city announced this morning in a press release that police chief Chris Bailey is stepping down for ‘personal reasons.’ 

Picture of a white police car in an empty parking lot, trees in background.

New Asheville police chief Chris Bailey steps into his role in the wake of events that have created distrust in communities of color. In July, the Asheville Police Department apologized for statements on gang activity in the area which were criticized as racial profiling.  

Cass Herrington

Asheville residents Tuesday night got the chance to weigh in on qualities they’d like to see in the next chief of police. But much of the discussion centered on how the public meeting was promoted and who was missing from the conversation.

City Manager Debra Campbell looked out over a mostly empty auditorium at the Doctor Wesley Grant South Side Center. Joining her were three consultants representing the Police Executive Research Forum, or PERF, which is helping conduct the national search to fill the position.


Asheville police chief Tammy Hooper says the department is in a better place than it was three years ago when she arrived.  It's one of many reasons why Hooper gave her resignation this week.

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.

A report commissioned by the city of Asheville criticizes two Asheville police officers for not intervening when a then city police officer was beating and choking an unarmed black pedestrian last August. 


Asheville city council meets Tuesday evening for the first time in a month, and items related the city’s police department headline the agenda.  

Former Asheville police officer Chris Hickman will not face federal charges for his role in the beating of an unarmed black man last August, the office of U.S.

In a move that supporters believe will aid in reducing racial disparities in the city, Asheville police will soon have to get written consent to search vehicles they’ve pulled over instead of just asking for it as is done currently.  City council approved the switch Tuesday by a 5-2 vote.  Cases where police have ‘probable cause’ to search a vehicle that’s been stopped will not be affected. 

Asheville police say four people are dead and three others were injured in a shooting that occurred late Wednesday evening in West Asheville.  The suspect in the case, identified as 35-year-old Maurice Laron Garner, is among the deceased.  Police say he died from a self inflicted gunshot wound.  He was found in a vehicle not far from the residence on Hansel Avenue where the shooting took place.

Nine body camera videos were released via court order Monday that depict the beating of an unarmed black man last August and its aftermath by a then-Asheville police officer, who now faces criminal charges for the incident.


Asheville city council has decided to replace embattled city manager Gary Jackson, effective at the end of the business day Tuesday.  Jackson’s ouster after 13 years on the job was announced by mayor Esther Manheimer during a Tuesday afternoon city council meeting.  Earlier this year, Jackson announced he was retiring at the end of 2018.  But that was before the release of video footage showing a then-Asheville police officer beating an unarmed black man last August.  That video, from a police body camera, only came to light because it was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times, which publi

NC Body Cam Law Leaves Release Up to Judges

Mar 15, 2018

Leaked video of an Asheville police officer beating an unarmed black man accused of jaywalking has brought renewed attention to the North Carolina law regarding the release of police body cam footage.  Lauren Horsch of NC Insider reports the Asheville incident is being cited by the law's critics as an example of its weaknesses.  She spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.


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.  

Buncombe County DA

(UPDATE Thursday 9:40 p.m.) -  Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams announced in a press release late Thursday that former Asheville police officer Chris Hickman will face three criminal charges for the August beating of an unarmed black man.  Hickman and an officer in training stopped Johnnie Rush for suspected jaywalking and trespassing  late on the night of August 24th on Short Coxe Avenue.  Hickman beat, choked and shocked Rush with a stun gun.  The charges detailed Thursday night against Hickman - who resigned from the police force in January - are one count each of assault


Asheville city council has called a closed session special meeting for Monday evening to discuss a video released this week showing a then-Asheville police officer beating an unarmed black man last August.  The video, published by the Asheville Citizen-Times, shows officer Chris Hickman beating and shocking with a stun gun Johnnie Jermaine Rush.  Hickman had stopped Rush for suspected jaywalking and trespassing August 24th. 


Efforts to promote racial and ethnic equity in Asheville should include community forums focusing on traffic stop data from city police.  That’s one of many recommendations a study group that’s proposing a ‘human relations commission’ in Asheville gave to city council Tuesday.  That group is also asking the city to expand its Office of Equity and Inclusion from one to four employees.  The current head of that office, Kimberlee Archie, was just hired last year. 

The Asheville city council is scheduled to adopt a budget for the coming fiscal year at its next meeting on June 13th.  Among the many spending requests lawmakers received is one from the Asheville Police Department, which is seeking $1-million to hire 15 new officers.  Police chief Tammy Hooper says it's needed to address a surge in crime in the downtown area, most likely caused by increases in tourists visiting the city.


A recent report showed Asheville police were pulling over far more African-American drivers than their white counterparts – even though the white population in the city dwarfs that of the black population.  Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Joel Burgess spoke with BPR’s Matt Bush about the

In North Carolina, young black men are  twice as likely to be stopped in their car than white men. In some U.S. cities, including Chicago, the ratio is much higher. 

Buncombe County District Attorney's Office

Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams announced Thursday there will be no charges filed against the Asheville police officer who shot and killed Jai Williams at the Dearview Apartments on July 2nd.  Todd Williams said  Sergeant Tyler Radford was 'justified' in shooting Jai Williams, who reportedly had been firing a rifle from his vehicle at the Pisgah View Apartments and leading police on a high speed chase prior to the shooting.  His death came as the national debate over police-involved shooting deaths of black men was reaching a fever pitch.

Editor's note:  This story is part of an occasional series on what area community leaders and residents are doing to balance "peace and pride" in their neighborhoods.

Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill on Monday making it harder for the public to gain access to police body camera footage. In response, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says citizens should be prepared to film law enforcement encounters themselves.

Christina Hallingse/Asheville Police Dept.

In light of the recent killing of a black man by a white officer in Asheville, as well as separate tragedies involving police in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and Dallas, we are highlighting an interview conducted in February with Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper that touched on body cameras and other high-profile shootings that were being hotly debated at the time, and still are to this day.  The Asheville incident is under investigation.  Police say the man was wielding an AR-15 rifle and was a threat to the officer.  The victim's family has called the killing unjustified.

Tammy Hooper, a deputy chief of police in Alexandria, Virginia, and a 26-year veteran of law enforcement is the new police chief in Asheville.

City officials announced to local media outlets that Hooper will start work on July 20. She is the city's first female police chief, and its third chief in four years. She replaces William Anderson, who resigned amid controversy last year.

Picture of a white police car in an empty parking lot, trees in background.

The Asheville City Council is scheduled to vote on buying body cameras for the police department.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports the City Council is set to vote on the purchase of 60 cameras that could be worn on various parts of the body, including the head or shoulder. The vote is scheduled during a regular Tuesday council meeting.