Hickman Probation: Call to Action

Tell Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams: Extend Officer Chris Hickman’s probation

Former Asheville Police Department Officer Chris Hickman’s probation hearing for his assault on Johnnie Rush is happening August 10. It’s wrong for his probation to expire before he completes with integrity the terms of the agreement, which included community service and a restorative justice process.

What to do: Contact the folks with the power to extend Officer Hickman’s soon-expiring probation.

  • Call and/or email Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams (828) 259-3410 todd.m.williams@nccourts.org
  • Call and/or email Jon Powell, Director of the Restorative Justice Clinic at Campbell University, who was supposed to oversee the process mandated in Hickman’s sentence, (919) 865-4695 jonpowell@campbell.edu

Some things you can say in your communication:

I urge you to extend Officer Hickman’s soon-expiring probation so that he may complete with integrity the community service he was sentenced to for his assault on Johnnie Rush. Due to COVID-19, Hickman has not completed the restorative justice process he was legally bound to complete and we find this an unacceptable failure to deliver justice for the communities he has harmed.

In the name of full-circle accountability, I ask you to ensure that Officer Hickman completes the community service portion of the restorative justice process with integrity, rather than just engaging a few Black people, one organization or one neighborhood, which only serves to create division and does not fully represent the broader Black community. An extension allows the time needed for a transformational dialogue process once it is safe from COVID-19, so that the broader Black community can offer and begin implementing their ideas.

For more context, scroll down below the form.

Here’s some context:

In August 2019 APD Officer Chris Hickman was convicted for savagely assaulting Johnnie Rush as he walked home from work the night of August 24, 2017. (Click here for the body cam footage of the incident. Trigger warning: explicit content.)

Hickman could have served a total maximum punishment of “39 months plus 270 days.” Instead, he received one year of supervised probation and a requirement to participate in a Restorative Justice Program directed by Jon Powell, a former criminal defense attorney, and the Director of the Campbell University Restorative Justice Clinic, in Raleigh, N.C. By doing so, 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 against an unarmed black man.

What we are asking for:

  • Make sure the voices of the Black and Brown community are heard relative to what has happened to Mr. Rush brought at the hands of Mr. Hickman.
  • 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.

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.

Sign the Petition by “Just Us”:


Guest Column by “Just Us” in the Asheville-Citizen Times: