One of the HPD officers caught on tape brutally beating a teenager during a 2010 arrest failed to convince a state appeals court that the video footage wasn't enough to support a conviction.
The appeal was filed by Drew Ryser, one of the four Houston Police Department officers indicted on misdemeanor charges of official oppression in the March 2010 beating of 15-year-old Chad Holley, a robbery suspect.
Of the four officers, two pleaded no contest to the charge, while another was acquitted. Ryser, on the other hand, attempted to fight the charge and was eventually found guilty.
According to the officers' report, Holley had supposedly resisted arrest by kicking and using closed fists, which required a use of force during the incident. But the footage, widely circulated after the owner of the camera turned it over to Quannel X, tells a different story.
On the video, Holley can clearly be seen tumbling over a chain link fence and falling flat onto the ground. The four officers surround him, and then take turns stomping and punching the teen as he lay on the grass.
During Ryser's 2013 trial, he testified that while it appeared on the footage that he was kicking Holley in the head, he was actually just taking him down with a "stab step," a move he said he had learned during his years of playing rugby.
Ryser also claimed that the move was unintentional, a result of muscle memory after eight years playing the sport.
The jury found Ryser guilty in June 2013, and he was given a six-month suspended sentence and two years of community service. Ryser was fired by HPD following the incident.
Still, despite the surveillance footage, Ryser opted to appeal the guilty verdict, saying that there was insufficient evidence to support it.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
During the appeal testimony, Ryser argued that he did not mean to "mistreat" Holley while striking him, saying that he believed that Holley had a gun in his waistband, and only struck him -- closed-fisted, mind you -- to prevent him from grabbing it.
Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland also testified during Ryser's appeal, calling Ryser's actions "an egregious use of force" that made him sick to his stomach.
It seems the First Court of Appeals, where the case was heard, agreed with McClelland. They denied the former officer's appeal.
In an opinion issued by Justice Harvey Brown, he says that the court believes that Ryser abused the teen, and knew what he was doing was unlawful.