CLOSE

Warning: This video contains graphic content. An Asheville police body camera captured this encounter near the corner of Biltmore and Short Coxe avenues in August 2017. Citizen Times

LINKEDIN 16 COMMENTMORE

ASHEVILLE - Police said an investigation would be needed into who leaked police body camera footage and a memo about the beating of a resident by a city police officer.

That is according to statements by Police Chief Tammy Hooper on Wednesday, the same day the Citizen Times published a version of the body camera footage along with a story that used information from the memo.

It is not clear if an investigation has started.

City officials and community leaders, who first learned of the Aug. 24 incident through the Citizen Times report, said they were outraged at the beating and that police had not notified them about it or the ongoing police investigation into the actions of the officer, Chris Hickman.

RELATED:Asheville police beating of man ignites furor

RELATED:FBI raises questions amid Asheville police brutality probe

Hooper on Thursday issued an apology to Johnnie Jermaine Rush, who is shown in the video being pinned on the ground and beaten by Hickman after a stop for jaywalking. But in an independent statement to the Citizen Times, Hooper said release of the memo and video depicting the incident was illegal. 

 

"It is unlawful for us to do that. So that points to another type of investigation that would have to go on around that," she said.

Body camera footage is not public record. The footage and the memo were given to the Citizen Times.

District Attorney Todd Williams, in a Thursday press release and tweet, criticized the release of the information and backed the idea of an investigation.

"The extrajudicial release of evidence in this case prior to the completion of the investigation, such as the body cam video, risks compromising a potential future prosecution of involved officers and may require its own independent investigation," Williams said.

But an elected official and appointed city board member have said more access to the video footage is warranted in the wake of recent events.

City Councilwoman Sheneika Smith said state law was too limiting on who can see footage. Leaders of local governments need to see the videos when there are allegations of excessive force and possible litigation, Smith added.

"When things get out of hand who's gonna protect our citizens? At the end of the day that's the real focus."

Dewana Little, appointed by City Council to lead an effort to form a human relations commission, said review could be done by committees that focus on equity issues and police relations.

"There are all these hurdles to viewing the footage," Little said. "What is the point if we can't hold them accountable for things on the body cams?"

 

LINKEDIN 16 COMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: https://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2018/03/02/asheville-police-investigation-needed-into-who-leaked-officer-beating-video/388916002/