500 signatures reached
To: Buncombe County Court
Extend the Restorative Justice Process for former APD Officer Chris Hickman
On August 9, 2019, Buncombe County North Carolina became the first county in the nation to formally implement a “Restorative Justice” sentence for a Police officer convicted of violent crimes on an unarmed black man. Former APD officer Christopher Hickman was convicted of communicating threats, assault inflicting serious injury and assault by strangulation of Asheville resident, Johnnie Rush, for crimes inflicted the night of August 24, 2017 as Mr. Rush attempted to walk home from work.
We, the undersigned, believe that the Restorative Justice process outlined by facilitator Jon Powell in Christopher Hickman’s court sentencing on August 9th 2019, has thus far failed to meet its stated intentions:
• “To bring in the voices from the community that have been affected by this.”
• To “work within the community” to craft a plan for community service “directed toward the harm that’s been created.”
We understand that the COIVD-19 pandemic placed significant and unforeseen barriers on the feasibility of genuine community engagement in the Restorative Justice process within the timeframe of Christopher Hickman’s probation.
We call on the Buncombe County Court, District Attorney Todd Williams, Defense attorney Thomas Amburgey, and Restorative Justice facilitator Jon Powell to uphold the stated intentions for Restorative Justice by supporting a motion to extend Christopher Hickman’s probation for one year, or until Hickman has complied with a community service plan crafted and agreed upon with the impacted Black Asheville community.
Why is this important?
The damaging impact and ripple effects of Christopher Hickman's violence against Johnnie Rush extend far beyond their individual stories. Hickman’s violent actions cut open deep and historic wounds in the relationship between the Asheville Police Department and the Black community of Asheville, long overdue for healing.
This Restorative Justice case will set a precedent one way or the other for the future of Restorative Justice in Asheville. On a national level, this case will set a precedent for the use of Restorative Justice in other cases of police violence.
If done poorly, or cut short, this Restorative Justice process will only exacerbate the breach of trust between the Asheville community and the police department and will not lead to healing. We want to see Restorative Justice uphold the principles of equity, inclusion, and healing in this case and in all future cases.
What we need for healing:
* To make sure the voices of the black and brown community are heard relative to what has happened to Mr. Rush brought about by Mr. Hickman.
* To ensure that Mr. Hickman along with Asheville Police Chief David Zack, take part in a meaningful facilitated dialogue with the impacted community (not just a few cherry-picked individuals) to talk about and agree on what can heal the harm.
* To ensure that Mr. Hickman and the Asheville Police Department follow through with their agreements.
Click here to see bodycam footage of the incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOR2P-nA3xI