Crime

Assault on Reporter Case Remains Unsolved

Chad Nesbitt on the ground at the scene, out cold awaiting an ambulance.

Asheville

$10,000 Reward offered

On September 23, 2020 Leicester resident and local journalist Chad Nesbitt was severely injured and hospitalized during a protest in downtown Asheville. It seems now, after weeks of investigation, the Asheville Police Department has closed the case—or have they?

Nesbitt, a local businessman better known for his founding and running of the Facebook-based news media page Skyline News, suffered a traumatic brain injury and was rushed to Mission Hospital. The incident occurred after one of his bodyguards was shoved into him by an assailant wearing a mask. Nesbitt’s head hit a parking meter and then the pavement. Several protestors then kicked him. The incident occurred near Pack’s Tavern.

Case open, closed or suspended?

Asheville Police Department (APD) Spokesperson Christina Hallingse responded to an inquiry into the status of the case, saying “The Asheville Police Department has exhausted all leads related to the September 23rd assault that led to Mr. Nesbitt’s injuries and has closed the case. However, if new information were to be presented to law enforcement or a suspect was to come forward, the case would be reopened and investigated accordingly.”

However, that’s not exactly the information that was given to Nesbitt by the lead detective, Trey Ruble. In a recorded conversation with Ruble told Nesbitt, “We’ve exhausted all resource on our end, until there is a much clearer suspect.” Nesbitt then asked the detective if the department was closing the case. The detective said, “No, no, it’s something that’s suspended. So we’ve exhausted our leads, but it’s never closed.” The detective then went on to say that Nesbitt’s best hope was to up the reward.

The conflicting messages from APD has Nesbitt concerned for Nesbitt who said, “This is just terrible. It feels horrible. Just think about if this is the kind of practice they do for other victims.” “How can you close a case if there hasn’t been an arrest yet?” A good question with Ruble saying more suspects have not been interviewed in the recording. “If there are twenty eight more suspects, why wouldn’t police follow-up on those suspects? Why wouldn’t they check and see who these people are? Because the only suspects I have got, and people have contacted me with are two, and they’ve only followed up on one of them and not the other.”

Nesbitt said the two people he knows of have ties to Antifa, a group on which he had reported in-depth weeks before his assault, and from whom he received numerous death threats to himself and his family to the point that he hired armed bodyguards. 

According to Nesbitt, not only does the report of such action by the APD have him concerned, as well as concerns over other APD officers, who have contacted him. “They [police officers] can’t believe that they [APD] have closed this case.”

Wanted person of interest. Do you know this man on the right? It could be worth $10,000.
Wanted person of interest. Do you know this man on the right? It could be worth $10,000.

Someone has the $10,000 answer.

Nesbitt has upped the reward for the tip leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who perpetrated the assault from $5,500 to $10,000.

“They have to talk to the district attorney, and they have to say yes, I saw that person there. This is the problem. The district attorney, he either wants this person to confess that they did it or a person who was there that night I saw that man push Chad’s security guard into him,” explained Nesbitt.

From video of that night’s events, there were several persons who could testify and collect a reward of $10,000, a fact which must worry the perpetrator.

How is Nesbitt?

Nearly two months after the assault, Nesbitt is still trying to recover. He has lost his hearing in one ear and walks with a cane. He has problems with balance and dizziness and still cannot do the things he loved to do, including skydiving, scuba diving, or even driving.

“I’m one hundred percent deaf in my right ear. I’m dizzy, I cannot walk without the assistance of my wife or one of my employees and a cane. I still do not drive and I’m just constantly dizzy.” Nesbitt did say that the headaches, which felt like an ice pick going into his temple, have stopped. 

Asked how the attack has affected his ability to cover news, Nesbitt told The Tribune, “Covering news, it’s made a big impact because every time there’s a car accident or that there is a fire someplace or something breaking somewhere I can’t get there immediately like I have in the past.”

Is a lawsuit coming?

Nesbitt is concerned  about the City of Asheville, allowing local and state laws to be broken by protestors, which he believes led to his injuries.

“The people protesting downtown did not have a permit to do so and the police department did not ask them to disperse from the area. They didn’t tell them to get out of the middle of the streets so cars could pass or anything along those lines. That in itself is a problem because from the ordinance of the City of Asheville and the laws of the state of North Carolina, you have to apply for a permit.”

“I feel like my injury would have never happened if there were a permit and the police department would have gone down there and said disperse. You don’t have a permit you have to go,” Nesbitt explained. “This was not a freedom of speech issue, it was an intimidation thing. They even gave a coffin full of cow manure to the police department to show it. Then even attacked me because I have given reports about the local Antifa movements here in Asheville…it [the attack] could have been avoided.”

Asked if he anticipated a lawsuit coming against the city, Nesbitt said, “Yes, I do. I have already contacted several attorneys inside and outside Buncombe County this week and are waiting for them to get back to us.”