April 18, 2024

NC police officer caught on body cam beating man for jaywalking

(Citizens Times screen capture)

Body cam footage of a North Carolina police officer beating down a man suspected of trespassing and jaywalking has the community outraged and calling for justice.

The body camera footage showed the police confronting Johnnie Jermaine Rush, who had been walking across a parking lot of a business that was closed for the day.

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Late on August 24, then officer-in-training Verino Ruggiero caught up to Rush after he crossed without using the crosswalk and claimed to have warned Rush about jaywalking.

“All I’m trying to do is go home, man. I‘m tired. I just got off work,” Rush says.

“I’ve got two options: I can either arrest you or write you a ticket,” Ruggiero replies.

“It doesn’t matter to me, man,” Rush says. “Do what you have got to do, besides keep harassing me.”

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Rush then swears in frustration, at which point Ruggiero tells him to put his hands behind his back. Rush flees, and another officer, Chris Hickman, chases him, promising, “You are going to get (expletive) up hardcore,” as he pulls out a stun gun.

In the video, obtained by the Citizen Times, Hickman can be seen restraining Rush and beating him, punching his head. Rush was also shocked with the stun gun twice. Rush can be heard to say multiple times that he can’t breathe as he is restrained on the ground.

Rush was taken to the hospital after the incident and there claimed that Hickman had used a racial slur during the beatdown.

He was charged with assault on a government official; resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer, trespass and traffic offenses, but those charges were later dismissed.

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Police are investigating

Asheville Police launched an investigation in January to determine whether excessive force was used during the arrest. That investigation is still ongoing, according to Police Chief Tammy Hooper.

Hooper also noted that Hickman is no longer on the force after resigning in January.

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