RALEIGH, N.C. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A white police officer shown on video beating a black pedestrian has been charged with felony assault in a North Carolina case that sparked outrage over use of excessive force.
Body camera video shows the confrontation between then-Officer Chris Hickman and Johnnie Jermaine Rush in August 2017.
The footage, which was leaked to the Asheville Citizen Times, has sparked outrage. It shows Hickman appearing to hit Rush in the head repeatedly before tasing him.
The violent encounter happened shortly after Asheville implemented rules against excessive force, demonstrating how even a well-meaning policy can be limited by the officers carrying it out. The delay in making the footage public also shows that body camera technology being adopted across the country can’t always guarantee the level of transparency many have hoped for.
“We need to be very cognizant of how difficult police supervision actually is. It’s difficult enough that we can’t just throw a piece of technology at it and expect to substantially change police supervision,” said Seth Stoughton, who teaches law at the University of South Carolina.
The officer resigned in January and was arrested late Thursday on charges of strangulation, assault, and communicating threats.
The warrant for Hickman said Rush, 33, suffered head abrasions and swelling and that he lost consciousness when Hickman pressed his arm on his throat.
James Lee, a black minister and member of the Racial Justice Coalition, said the episode erodes trust in a community that hoped the use-of-force policy would bring change.
“What this has done is pause that level of trust,” Lee said.
Still, Lee said Hickman is being held accountable, and he believes Police Chief Tammy Hooper should stay in her job.
“Hopefully she’ll continue to learn from this,” he said.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)