Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer and Police Chief Tammy Hooper issued statements today on an incident shown in police body camera footage posted in a Feb. 28 article by the Asheville Citizen-Times and subsequently re-posted by the Asheville Police Department on its Facebook page.
On Thursday, March 1, Manheimer released the following statement on the incident:
On behalf of City Council, I apologize to Mr. Rush, an African American resident, regarding his treatment by Asheville Police on Aug. 24, 2017.
The City Council first learned, last night, from local media, about a highly disturbing video of an Asheville Police Officer assaulting Mr. Rush over jaywalking on Aug. 24, 2017.
The City Council and I immediately contacted City administration to express our outrage at the treatment of Mr. Rush and our outrage of not being informed about the actions of APD officers. The Council is calling for a review of the violent acts against a city resident and what swift and immediate action was taken by APD upon review of the video footage. We will have accountability and, above all, transparency.
This incident is a step backward in the Asheville Police Department’s work to modernize police practices. Earlier this week, APD released a report showing a 61 percent decrease in the department’s overall use of force. The number shows that the revised Use of Force Policy and the training of police officers on de-escalation has helped us make progress; however, until we recognize that one incident is too many, we have not met our goals.
As your Mayor, I want there to be a clear message that there must be an end to police abuse of power. I support APD Chief Hooper in her efforts to emphasize de-escalation. The acts of these officers do not represent the professional and fair treatment a vast majority of our officers show in the course of their duties day in and day out.
We are better than this. We MUST uphold ourselves to the highest standards and practices.
In addition to the video of the August 2017 incident posted to APD’s Facebook page, Hooper released the following statement via Facebook and Twitter:
“The acts demonstrated in this video are unacceptable and contrary to the Department’s vision and the progress we have made in the last several years in improving community trust. Officers know that they must earn the trust of our community by providing fair and respectful service. That very clearly did not happen during the incident depicted and for that I apologize to Mr. Rush, as well as the community. It is the policy of the Asheville Police Department to review all instances of use of force, and to take swift and immediate action upon any use of unwarranted or excessive force. The officer is no longer employed by the Asheville Police Department and a criminal investigation is underway that will be submitted to the District Attorney.”