Additional Body Cam Footage Of Rush Beating Released

Apr 2, 2018

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.

The city of Asheville sued to have the videos released, as police body camera footage is not public record in North Carolina.  A judge agreed with the city last Monday, giving authorities one week to publish the footage.  The videos include the original footage that was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times (video #2 below), which then published it, bringing the incident to public view six months after it occurred.  Among the videos released today the public had not seen before include the body camera footage of the supervising officer who interviewed Johnnie Rush, the man who was beaten.  Sergeant Lisa Taube was disciplined by the police department for her performance.  She arrived on scene to talk to Rush as mandated whenever an officer uses force.  The video (#4 below) shows her and Rush arguing before he is taken off to Mission Hospital for medical treatment.  The final video (#9) shows Rush speaking with officer Chris Hickman after he is released from the hospital and is taken to jail.  Charges against Rush from the incident were dropped.  Hickman resigned from the police force in January and then was charged in March with three crimes, including felony assault.  

Asheville City Council, police chief Tammy Hooper and interim city manager Cathy Ball released a joint open letter Monday as the videos were released.  It is below, followed by the nine videos.  As a word of caution, the videos do include violence and profanity.

JOINT LETTER FROM ASHEVILLE CITY COUNCIL, INTERIM CITY MANAGER CATHY BALL, AND POLICE CHIEF TAMMY HOOPER -

Today, the City of Asheville will release nine officer body-worn camera videos related to the use of excessive force against Johnnie Jermaine Rush by former Officer Christopher Hickman in August of 2017.

These videos are disturbing, difficult to watch and may not be appropriate for all ages, as they contain violence and profanity. However, in the interest of public accountability and transparency, the City of Asheville petitioned the Buncombe County Superior Court to release the body-worn camera videos captured the night of August 24 and early morning of August 25, 2017.

This incident has created a loss of trust within the community, particularly among people of color. The City of Asheville understands that there is substantial work to do to restore the public’s trust. We have heard your concerns and feedback and we are committed to moving forward with the help of the community. We are encouraged by the community's support as we implement changes towards this goal.   

We are dedicated to being leaders who will create a culture where all people are treated with dignity and respect, and will hold accountable any employee who does not conduct themselves in this manner.

These full descriptions of the videos come from here on the city's website.

1. Recording is taken from the body-worn camera of Christopher Hickman on August 24, 2017, at 11:52 p.m. The video is taken at the Eblen Short Stop (210 Biltmore Avenue) when Officer Verino Ruggiero first approaches Johnnie Rush about jaywalking as he leaves the convenience store.

2. Recording is taken from the body-worn camera of Christopher Hickman on August 25, 2017, at 12:01 a.m. This is the original recording that was released by the Asheville Citizen-Times on March 1, 2018. This recording contains violent content and explicit language.

3. Recording is taken from the body-worn camera of Police Officer Luis Delgado on August 25, 2017, at 12:04 a.m. Officer Delgado arrives to the scene and sees a struggle between Christopher Hickman, Officer Ruggiero and Mr. Rush. At the time of Officer Delgado’s arrival Mr. Rush is being tasered. This recording contains violent content and explicit language.

4. Recording is taken from the body-worn camera of Sgt. Lisa Taube on August 25, 2017, at 12:04 a.m. Per the Asheville Police Department’s Use of Force Policy, “a supervisor will respond to the scene of all reportable incidents involving a use of force to conduct a preliminary investigation and collect supplemental documents….” The video contains the supervisors interactions with Mr. Rush, Mr. Rush’s significant other and Christopher Hickman. Sergeant Taube ultimately received disciplinary action for poor performance, and was ordered to undergo remedial training in connection with this incident. This recording contains violent content and explicit language.

5. Recording is taken from the body-worn camera of Senior Police Officer Doug Williams on August 25, 2017, at 12:04 a.m. SPO Williams arrived to the scene as Mr. Rush is being walked across the street to Hickman’s patrol vehicle. This video contains explicit language.

6. Recording is taken from the body-worn camera of Senior Police Officer Shawn Parker on August 25, 2017, at 12:07 a.m. SPO Parker arrived to the scene as Mr. Rush is being walked across the street to Hickman’s patrol vehicle. This video contains explicit language.

7. Recording is taken from the body-worn camera of Officer Colby Davis on August 25, 2017, at 12:08 a.m. Officer Davis arrived on the scene after Mr. Rush was taken across the street to Hickman’s patrol vehicle. This video contains explicit language.

8. Recording is taken from the body-worn camera of Senior Police Officer Shawn Parker on August 25, 2017, at 12:31 a.m. It shows SPO Parker interacting with Mr. Rush’s significant other, as well as other officers who arrive on-scene. This video contains explicit language.

9. Recording is taken from the body-worn camera of Christopher Hickman on August 25, 2017, at 1:22 a.m. The recording is taken in the parking lot of Mission Hospital following Mr. Rush’s release from the hospital. The video shows Christopher Hickman, Officer Verino Ruggiero and Mr. Rush talking about the earlier incident in the Mission Parking lot, and then the drive to the Buncombe County Detention Facility.