Judge Goes Off on Asheville Officers for Controversial Arrest of Black Man

RAW VIDEO: Devon Whitmire arrested by Asheville police

Updated as of 5/25/2023 9:00 a.m. ET

The Black man violently arrested by three Asheville, NC officers appeared before the judge in a bond hearing, according to the Asheville Citizen Times. While bringing down a hefty bond, the judge also ridiculed the officers involved for their actions.

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“Anyone who thinks this was handled appropriately by Mr. Whitmire, or for that fact, by the officers, is sadly mistaken,” said Buncombe County District Court Judge Edwin Clontz.

The judge said when the officers grabbed 27-year-old Devon Whitmire, they didn’t give him a chance to comply to their commands by pulling his arms across his face and neck while he was handcuffed, per the report. The judge also signed off on the public release of the body camera footage.

The officers haven’t been indicted on any charges related to the arrest. However, Whitmire faces assault charges, including a count for assault on a government official inflicting a serious injury. He’s being held on a whopping $85,000 bond, which Judge Clontz said was “more than appropriate” given Whitemire’s charges.

City residents are still enraged, being many of them saw the arrest unfold and insist the officers abused their use of force. At least Whitmire has plenty of witnesses to bring to the stand by the time he goes to trial.

What Happened to Devon Whitmire?

A video of a police encounter showing Asheville, Nc. officers violently detaining Devon Whitmire sparked outrage in the community. According to ABC 13 News, the officers claim he assaulted them while resisting arrest but bystanders believe they were the ones who assaulted the man.

Whitmire, 27, was arrested Saturday for an open warrant for communicating threats. The police department said when the officers approached Whitmire he initially gave them a false name. After confirming his identity, the officers attempted to arrest him. Despite him wearing a sling for a broken arm, they tried to force his arms behind his back and threw him onto the ground.

“Can’t y’all just back up so I can get my gun off me?” Whitmire said, per the authorities. However, Whitmire’s fiancé, Carrie Speigle, told the Citizen Times, “I thought I heard him say, ‘I don’t have it on me.’”

As the officers struggled with him on the ground, a crowd gathered and began to yell at the officers to get off of him. “He can’t breathe,” a bystander is heard saying as they pressed him into the ground by his neck.

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Whitmire, 27, was arrested and charged with multiple counts of assault, including assault on a government official inflicting serious injury. On May 17 he remained in the Buncombe County Detention Facility under an $85,000 bond. His next court date is June 2.

APD spokesperson Samantha Booth declined to confirm that no gun was found or say whether the encounter was recorded on body camera. Booth also declined to say why the level of force was warranted when Whitmire made no threatening motion and appeared to be injured, with his arm in a sling because of a broken arm, according to his fiancé.

Following Whitmire’s arrest, the video of the altercation circulated social media angering residents. A group of activists and former mayoral candidate Michael Hayes led a protest and attempted to talk to ADP Chief David Zack.

“It could have been de-escalated, but It was a choice to continue that assault on that young man. And it was an assault,” said Hayes via Citizen Times.

The group, dubbed the “Apply the Pressure Committee,” vowed to return to the police station every day until they meet with the police chief to discuss how to move forward.

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