Videotaped Houston Police Beating: No Felonies Involved
Only midmeanor cases, and no video release
Today a grand jury indicted four officers, charging them with Class A misdemeanors, including official oppression and violating the civil rights of a prisoner.
HPD police chief Charles McClelland announced he has fired all four of the officers, plus three others who were involved in the incident. McClelland also suspended five additional officers. All discipline was based on internal affairs investigations and administrative or policy violations, said McClelland.
Addressing a room full of feisty reporters this afternoon, Mayor Annise Parker said, "I am not a lawyer, not a judge, but I certainly believe discipline is warranted and I understand the decision of the grand jury to indict."
This all began on March 24 when members of HPD's Westside Gang Unit spotted a number of alleged burglars trying to get away. One of them was 16-year-old Chad Holley of Elsik High School.
Officers tracked Holley down and allegedly administered him a beating. The alleged thumping was apparently captured on a surveillance video tape at a business called Uncle Bob's Storage. The storage company's corporate offices in Buffalo, New York mailed HPD and then the Harris County DA's office a copy of the tape in late April, when both agencies began separate investigations.
Having seen the video tape, Parker said it was "not something that should happen with any police department or to any citizen of Houston."
It did not go unnoticed by the press corps, however, that while it appears McClelland did deal out severe administrative punishment to more than half a dozen officers, little was done on the criminal side of things.
Four misdemeanor indictments, for which each officer if convicted could receive a year in jail and a $4,000 fine, for allegedly beating up a prisoner, to many did not seem appropriate.
Parker countered, however, saying, "Seven officers lost their jobs and will never be police officers again if we have anything to say about it. I don't see how anyone can say it won't have a serious effect."
Parker, McClelland, and DA Pat Lykos this afternoon all vigorously stated how "evidence was painstakingly gathered," and applauded the police and DA's offices for acting "swiftly and decisively," conducting "exhaustive investigations" and then thanked the storage company for coming forward with their tape.
The public, however, won't be seeing the tape anytime soon, barring a leak at the DA's office.
"The first showing will be in the courtroom," said Lykos. "The defendants are entitled to a fair trial."
Here's the breakdown of what happened to whom:
Officer Raad Hassan -- charged with official oppression and violating the civil rights of a prisoner. Terminated.
Officer Andrew Blomberg -- charged with official oppression. Terminated.
Officer Drew Ryser -- charged with official oppression. Terminated.
Office Phillip Bryan -- charged with official oppression and violating the civil rights of a prisoner. Terminated.
Sgt. John McClellan -- terminated.
Officer Guadencio Saucedo -- terminated.
Sr. Officer Lewis Childress -- terminated.
Five other officers were suspended for two days.