Guilty verdict: Ex-HPD officer gets probation in Chad Holley beating

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by Michelle Homer / KHOU.com & Doug Miller / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 12, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 12 at 10:49 PM

HOUSTON -- A Houston jury found former Houston cop Drew Ryser guilty of official oppression Wednesday in the videotaped beating of teen burglar Chad Holley.

In a plea deal, Ryser agreed to a sentence of two years probation.

Holley tried to run from HPD officers after he was caught breaking into a home in March 2010.

Surveillance video showed officers chasing him down, throwing him to the ground and stomping on him. That publicized beating sparked outrage across the nation, and community activist Quanell X led the charge in demanding justice.

Four officers, including Ryser, were later fired and charged with official oppression.

Ryser admitted he struck and kneed Chad Holley in what he considered a justifiable use of force, but the former officer denied kicking him. Prosecutors told the jury in closing arguments that if Ryser kicked Holley, that alone made him guilty.

Jurors told the judge they were deadlocked on Tuesday, but he told them to keep trying.

Wednesday morning, they asked the judge to review testimony in which Ryser told prosecutors he did not kick the suspect. They’re also asking questions about Ryser’s testimony that, as he ran up to Holley, he gained his footing using moves he learned as a rugby coach.   

The jurors reached a verdict a few hours after reviewing that testimony.

"The jury did send a message that this kind of behavior by law enforcement officers is not going to be tolerated in Houston," Community activist Quanell X said. "So we want to say to the Houston police department that your days of beating young men and stomping young men and kicking young men and playing rugby and passing the football like Mr. Ryser said he was doing, those days are over."

"Obviously, we’re very disappointed in the outcome of it. We consider this to be a victory for the criminals and gang members of Houston," said Jim Smith, Ryser’s father-in-law. If I was a citizen, I’d make sure my doors are locked tonight."  

Ryser was the last fired Houston police officer to go to court in connection with the beating of Holley. 

His partner, Andrew Blomberg, was acquitted by an all-white jury. Two other officers pled "no contest" in exchange for two year, probated sentences.  

Holley was given probation for the 2010 burglary and said he was going to get his life together. Instead, he was arrested for trespassing and another burglary.

When he showed up to be sentenced on the second burglary charge, Holley was arrested for an outstanding warrant in the trespassing case. He remains in jail.

We spoke with Holley in jail. We were not allowed to bring our cameras.

Holley did not say much. Matter fact, he was unaware that Ryser was on trial.

We informed him that Ryser was not given jail time. He put his head down and did not say a word.

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