Earlier this month former Asheville police officer Christopher Hickman pled guilty to felony assault in the 2017 case involving black pedestrian Johnny Rush. Hickman was charged in March 2018 after footage of him choking and violently beating Rush was leaked to the media. Now, Hickman could see his charges dismissed after one year if he follows through on a first-of-its-kind restorative justice program.
With permission from Rush, Hickman negotiated a deal with the Buncombe County district attorney’s office that includes community service and the completion of a restorative justice program, a process that has already started with an in-person meeting between Rush and Hickman. Some African American Asheville officials and residents have spoken out against the plea deal saying a jail-less punishment is an example of systemic bias in favor of the white officer. Host Frank Stasio speaks with Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Joel Burgess about his extensive reporting on the case.