Asheville police officer controversy: More NYT coverage, FOP vandalized

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Here’s at look at more fallout from the Asheville Police Department controversy involving former Officer Chris Hickman, who can be seen in police body cam video beating, choking and using a Taser on Johnnie Rush, a man police had detained the night of Aug. 24, 2017. The video became public about two weeks ago after the Asheville Citizen-Times was leaked a copy of it and published it alongside a news story detailing events of that encounter. The FBI has launched an investigation into the incident.

-The New York Times on Sunday, March 11, published its second story on the incident and reported that Hickman had been suspended before the August 2017 encounter with Rush. Hickman was hired in 2008 and suspended in 2011, the NYT reported, citing personnel records. In 2015, Hickman was serving as a detective when he was honored with a medal of honor for “outstanding work and dedication” the year before. He was suspended again in October 2017, the NYT reported. A police spokeswoman told the newspaper that the disciplinary suspensions meant Hickman was “determined to have committed a violation of policy,” according to the report, and added that the 2017 suspension was not connected to the August 2017 incident.

-The Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Asheville was vandalized early Monday morning after somebody used spray paint to scrawl “Black lives matter” in giant lettering across the front of the building on Piney Park Road. The window of a van parked nearby was smashed and the American flag was turned upside down and flown on the lodge flag pole.

-Also Monday, more than a dozen metal signs bolted to poles in downtown Asheville referenced the incident by declaring, “No jaywalking. Violators are subject to abuse by the Asheville Police Department.” In fine print, the sign says, “Abuse may include, but not limited to, punches, kicks and billy club strikes to the head, torso and extremities, electroshocks administered by taser gun, and gunshots to the body and head.” The same sign, in sticker format, was also found in downtown.

-Asheville City Council met Tuesday, its first regular meeting after the controversy police body cam video was published, and heard from residents outraged by the incident. Some 40 speakers rose to speak, and most of them lambasted public officials and called for swift action to be sure a similar incident could not happen again.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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1 Comment

  1. Paul Fabrikant March 17, 2018

    The link to the NY Times story in the above article provides this stunning additional information:
    “The officer, Christopher W. Hickman, 31, was charged on Thursday with assault by strangulation, a felony, and assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats, which are misdemeanors.”
    What? Assault inflicting serious injury is a misdemeanor and
    not a felony? That’s outrageous!


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