Citizens call for change amid use of force investigation at APD

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ASHEVILLE, NC (WSPA) – The Citizens Police Advisory Committee meeting was heated Wednesday night following a use of force investigation involving a former police officer.

Wednesday night’s meeting was the first one since the Asheville Citizen Times obtained body camera video showing an officer beating a man suspected of jaywalking in August 2017.

Inside the meeting, emotional residents called for a change and asked why it took so long for a criminal investigation to happen.

7 News learned just before the meeting Wednesday that a federal investigation is underway.

“I don’t understand why the DA didn’t bring charges. Sorry, Tammy, but I don’t know what took so long,” longtime Asheville resident Al Whiteside said during the packed committee meeting. 

“We’re no longer in the 60s. We don’t need anymore talking. We need to sit down at the table and take action,” Whiteside said.

“This is about a system that’s been brutalizing us,” said DeLores Venable with Black Lives Matter.

The meeting was standing room only, as people fired off comments and questions toward Police Chief Tammy Hooper.

Hooper said there’s no investigation about who leaked the body camera footage, which has not yet been made public after being obtained by the Asheville Citizen Times.

“We train people, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to do what’s right,” Hooper said. “I’m 100 percent responsible for what happened with this agency.”

Citizens at the meeting Wednesday also wanted to know how people at the head of the investigation were being held accountable.

“I’m very upset about apologies,” Delores Venable, with Asheville Black Lives Matter, said. “You can’t apologize for something you keep doing over and over. This is Asheville. I know people think it’s the greatest place in the world — a utopia of fun and drinks. Just the greatest place on Earth. But for black people, that’s not the same.”

“When I came tonight, I expected resignations,” one person said at the meeting.

People said the meeting Wednesday served as an opportunity to voice their concerns and they hope real change can become a reality.

We reported earlier that the officer at the center of the case has since resigned from the police department.

The NC State Bureau of Investigation said an investigation by that agency would duplicate much of the results of the ongoing federal investigation. 

Asheville Police Department has submitted it’s own criminal case to the district attorney.

No word yet if charges will be filed.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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