In support of Asheville Police Chief David Zack’s recommendation of an outside independent investigation into Asheville Police’s response to recent protests, City Council has requested that the City Attorney’s Office, under the direction of City Attorney Brad Branham, lead the effort to select the investigator. This move is aimed at maximizing accountability and transparency to the public through the course of the process. In a June 14 email to City Manager Debra Campbell, Council also recommended that involvement in the analysis extend beyond the Public Safety Committee to include the entire City Council.
The email, signed by all seven Council members, including Mayor Esther Manheimer, also stated: “This investigation will not supersede any Public Safety Committee’s inquiry, limit the scope of their questioning or prohibit involved parties from fully testifying to these matters.” Additionally, Council requested that at a minimum, “the City Attorney’s office or an independent firm selected by the City Attorney’s office interview at least the following persons, but not limited to, all members of City Council, the City Manager and the Chief of Police to establish the facts leading up to and including the decisions made for Use of Force and calling in and overseeing the National Guard and any other police agencies.”
The email also stated that the outside investigation is meant to be an objective and transparent look at the methods and tactics used during the protests — including the use of tear gas on the Captain Jeff Bowen Bridge and the destruction of supplies at the medic tent.
Branham will lead the selection process to identify the firm to conduct the investigation which will be subject to final approval by the full City Council.