There has been public outrage over a viral video showing two police officers beating and tasering a black man who was accused of jaywalking. As seen in the below police video, which was obtained by the Citizen Times on Wednesday, Officer Chris Hickman can be seen beating Johnnie Jermaine Rush on August 24.
It was late in the evening when the 33-year-old Rush was stopped for jaywalking. Eventually, Hickman can be seen in the graphic video landing blows to Rush’s head; a different officer is also present. Then an officer in training, Verino Ruggiero claimed that Rush was warned about jaywalking.
Rush complained that he was tired — he had just completed working his 13-hour shift at the local Cracker Barrel as a dishwasher. However, Ruggiero told Rush he could write Rush a ticket or arrest him. Rush implored the officers to stop harassing him and then issued a curse word. Hickman ordered Rush to put his hands behind his back.
As Rush tried to run away, Hickman chased him and extracted his stun gun. Hickman and another officer pushed Rush to the ground, where Rush was struck at least two times with the stun gun. Rush complained that he couldn’t breathe during the encounter. In the wake of the incident, Rush was hospitalized and claimed Hickman abused him and called him a racial slur.
As reported by the New York Times, the jaywalking incident took place in Asheville, North Carolina. The beating and tasering happened near a baseball stadium where plenty of citizens take shortcuts home.
Ruggiero told Rush that he allegedly failed to “use the crosswalk four times in a row.” The charges brought against Rush were dismissed after the police video was reviewed.
Officer Hickman, meanwhile, has used “rude and discourteous behavior,” according to police records, during at least four other encounters with members of the public. Meanwhile, the City of Asheville is petitioning the police department to reveal more body camera video footage from the night when Rush was arrested to uncover to the public more about what happened in the area in the Appalachian Mountains, where African Americans make up only 12 percent of the deeply-segregated population.