Buncombe County, North Carolina, District Attorney Todd Williams said Thursday charges have been filed in connection with an incident in Asheville involving a white police officer, who was seen on a body camera footage punching and subduing a black man accused of jaywalking, that left many residents outraged and asking for answers.

The Asheville City Council released a statement to the community Thursday after claims of excessive use of force by the Asheville Police Department.

The City Council said in the statement regarding the incident: 

"Like you, we are angry. We are angry that a black man walking home from a long day at work was stopped for jaywalking — something most of us do regularly without consequence.  We are angry that Johnnie Rush was attacked, beaten, choked and tased by a white police officer in violation of City policy and common decency. We are angry that, even with all the efforts to improve relationships between the police and the community, even with an improved use of force policy, this could still happen here.  And we are furious that no one thought that we — Asheville’s elected leaders — needed to know about this incident."

"We again extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Rush for his treatment at the hands of members of the Asheville Police Department. It’s important to note that Chief Hooper, after viewing the video footage of the incident, immediately took [the officer] off the streets. And she took necessary steps to ensure that he’s no longer employed by the Asheville Police Department. The Chief recognizes that the officer’s behavior does not represent the standards to which we hold ourselves and all City employees," the statement added.

Police brutality protest In this representational photo, protesters rally against police brutality in McKinney, Texas, June 8, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Mike Stone

On Monday, the City of Asheville filed a petition in order to have body camera footage in the incident released. City officials stated portions of the footage showed "clearly excessive" force during the arrest of a trespassing suspect on Biltmore Avenue that took place in August 2017. 

Police body camera footage obtained by the Citizen Times last Wednesday showed Officer Chris Hickman beating the accused jaywalker identified as Johnnie Jermaine Rush with punches to his head, while he was being restrained by Hickman and another fellow officer.

District Attorney Williams released a statement on Twitter on Thursday, confirming Hickman, an officer with Asheville Police Department, was charged in the incident. Hickman was charged with assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats.

Police already launched an investigation into the incident in January in order to determine whether the officer used excessive force while arresting the black man accused of jaywalking and trespassing. Currently, the FBI has been involved in the case. The incident occurred last august when Rush was walking home from work last August when he was tasered and beaten up during a stop by the police.

The FBI investigation, alongside the independent criminal investigation into the case by the Asheville police department, is likely to focus on violations of Rush's civil rights during the incident.

Hickman resigned from the department sometime before Jan. 19, according to a memo obtained by the Citizen Times. Police Chief Tammy Hooper also confirmed Wednesday that Hickman was no longer with the department.