HOUSTON—Court documents released Thursday detail the videotaped beating of a teen burglary suspect by Houston police officers.
Four officers: Raad Hassan, Andrew Blomberg, Drew Ryser and Phil Bryan, are charged with official oppression in connection with the arrest of 16-year-old Chad Holley. Hassan and Bryan are also charged with violating the civil rights of a prisoner. All four officers turned themselves in and posted bond overnight.
In addition to the charges, the four officers were fired by HPD Chief Charles McClelland after a Harris County grand jury indicted them on Wednesday.
According to court documents, Hassan kicked Holley with his foot while knowing that the conduct was unlawful.
Blomberg is accused of “striking the complainant with his foot.”
Court documents said Ryser kneed Holley during the arrest.
Bryan allegedly kicked the suspect with his foot and hit him with his hand.
In addition to the four accused men, two other officers and a sergeant who were allegedly involved but not charged in the incident were fired Wednesday.
Five officers were suspended for two days for violations unrelated to Holley’s arrest, McClelland said.
The charges – all Class A Misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine – were not well-received by the victim’s attorney and some community activists.
After the indictments were handed down, Holley’s attorney said his client was too upset to talk to the media. The attorney said they wanted the officers to be charged with assault, which would carry a stiffer penalty.
Community activist Quanell X said he believed race played a factor in the charges that were filed.
“I believe that the racial makeup of the grand jury played a significant role in such watered-down, lukewarm charges coming back against these officers. Yes I do,” the activist said.
District Attorney Pat Lykos described the grand jury as “diverse.”
In a press conference Thursday, the Houston Ministers Against Crime called for harsher charges, more transparency and a more diverse grand jury.
They emphasized that the issue isn’t that Holley should go unpunished – if he committed the crime, they said he should pay the price.
But they called for a civilian review board to look at these cases – particularly those involving civil rights.
“I am somewhat tired and weary of everything leaning on us. [Like] it’s our fight,” Lloyd Williams said of the African-American community. “No, it is the entire city of Houston’s fight. It’s River Oaks’ fight. It’s Bellaire’s fight. It’s everybody’s fight. Everybody have a kid.”
The ministers echoed Quanell X’s call to release the surveillance video of the arrest.
Top city officials have expressed worry about possible reactions to the tape.
“As I have stated before, what I saw on the videotape was disturbing. It is not something that should happen with any law enforcement agency, and certainly not for the Houston Police Department and to any citizen of the City of Houston,” Houston Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday.
Officials said if the tape is released, it won’t be until after the legal proceedings are complete – something that could take quite some time.