Two years ago, after the fatal police shooting of a local black man ignited a summer of racial tension, police launched an intelligence operation to monitor the efforts of two civil rights groups, a Citizen Times investigation has found. Here is a timeline of events related to the death of Jai “Jerry” Williams.
July 2, 2016 – Police Sgt. Tyler Radford, who is white, shoots Jai “Jerry” Williams, who is black, nine times, killing him. Police said Williams, 35, displayed a gun and had fired an AR-15 rifle in Pisgah View Apartments, a public housing complex, before leading police on a chase to Deaverview Apartments.
RELATED: Detailed timeline of Jerry Williams shooting and aftermath
July (date unknown) – After the shooting, threats against officers are observed in meetings and on social media in July and August, according to statements by Asheville Police Department officials nearly two years later. They decline to give exact dates or any other details.
July 5 – More than 50 people protesting the shooting gather outside the Buncombe County Courthouse.
July 12 – Stop the Violence Rally: Participants pack The Block Off Biltmore bar in downtown’s historic African-American district, wearing T-shirts saying “Stop the killing of black people,” “#justice4jerry,” “#summerofchange.”
July 21-22 – In an march without a city permit, demonstrators walk through downtown to the police department, putting a “Black Lives Matter” banner on the side of the station. They call for Chief Tammy Hooper to apologize for Williams’ death and to fire Radford. After an overnight sit-in, eight people, including one journalist, and the Rev. Amy Cantrell, a community activist, are arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct in a public building.
July 27 – Using photos and videos largely from Facebook, police begin issuing citations for the July 21 march. Officers say demonstrators blocked traffic and harassed drivers. Most citations are for impeding traffic, a misdemeanor.
July 27-28 – City Council Public Safety Committee Chairman Cecil Bothwell says he doesn’t support using the photos and videos for after-the-fact citations. Councilmen Keith Young and Brian Haynes also publicly question the police actions.
July (date unknown) – Hooper authorizes an intelligence gathering operation into Black Lives Matter, Showing Up for Racial Justice and “related individuals” in response to the threats. That comes from statements by APD officials nearly two years later. Also monitored are the Asheville Politics Facebook group and the Direct Action Everywhere vegan organization. Police say monitoring happened in July and August but decline to give other details, including when the operation ended or whether officers worked undercover.
Aug. 4 – Police by this date have identified 23 demonstrators and issued 20 citations.
Aug. 31 – In choosing groups to help advise on a new use-of-force policy, Hooper excludes Showing Up for Racial Justice.
Dec. 15 – District Attorney Todd Williams rules Williams’ shooting justified.
Aug. 24, 2017 – APD officers Christopher Hickman and Verino Ruggiero stop pedestrian Johnnie Rush, who is black, shortly before midnight saying he jaywalked and trespassed by cutting through the parking lot of a business south of downtown. The situation escalates and Hickman beats Rush, shocks him with a stun gun and grabs him by the neck.
Feb. 28, 2018 – The Citizen Times, which has obtained footage from Hickman’s body camera, publishes a video of the beating, marking the first time the public and council members learn of the violent encounter. Hickman has since left the force and a criminal investigation by APD is underway.
March 7 – Outraged residents pack a Citizens/Police Advisory Committee meeting. Black Lives Matter President Delores Venable and her mother, Dee Williams, a former council candidate and longtime activist, say an anonymous caller told them APD had them and Cantrell under surveillance. Hooper denies it.
March 22 – Following a tip alleging APD’s targeting of civil rights groups, the Citizen Times sends a public records request asking for information including internal emails on any investigation into the groups.
March (date unknown) – Council members are briefed about the intelligence operation by City Attorney Robin Currin. The briefing appears to happen after March 26, according to statements by council members and APD spokeswoman Christina Hallingse, who declines to give an exact date.
May 4 – Hooper declines a Citizen Times interview request, saying questions should be submitted in writing.
May 9 – Responding to Citizen Times questions, Hallingse reveals the existence of the operation. In a series of emails back and forth through June 27, the APD spokeswoman gives a few other details, but declines to answer most questions, citing what she said are safety concerns for the public and officers and state law that makes criminal intelligence operations not public record.
RELATED: Asheville police monitor civil rights groups