HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Annise Parker says in hindsight she probably would not have withheld a video that appears to show Houston police officers beating a handcuffed teenager last March.
But she said it was the correct legal move.
Community leaders expressed anger that it took almost a year for the video to be released during a town hall meeting Tuesday night at the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church. They also called for a federal investigation.
During the meeting, Parker also apologized to community activist Quanell X for suggesting that the person who released the tape should be prosecuted.
On Wednesday, Parker acknowledged that she did not anticipate the anger that the images would cause within the Houston community.
The mayor and the district attorney have repeatedly said that they didn’t want the video to come out before the officers’ trial so the jury pool wouldn’t be tainted.
On Tuesday night, angry residents pressed her about whether she should have released the tape sooner. Parker said that knowing what she knew now, she probably would have,
On Wednesday, after the city council meeting, Parker clarified her statement.
"Legally, we made the right decision,” Parker said. “And I stand by my decision. I'm not going to look back. But in terms of how the community responded to the tape...that [the community thought] we were somehow trying to hide the information -- that is the farthest thing from the truth. And I regret that anybody felt that we were trying to suppress it."
She also said that it wasn't her call, once again stressing the District Attorney Pat Lykos had wanted to make sure the officers got a fair trail and that they could be tried in Harris County.
Parker insisted that ever since city officials learned about the tape, they took swift action and disciplined the officers. Four of them now face misdemeanor charges.
Meanwhile, the city attorney is asking council members to watch what they say about the Chad Holley case, since the teenager’s lawyers might use those comments against the city in a civil lawsuit.
"I think for us to say we shouldn't comment on it, that's not proper," said C.O. “Brad” Bradford, a city councilman and former police chief. "Having worn the uniform of the Houston Police Department for 24 years, I am thoroughly embarrassed at what I see on the tape."
Also on Wednesday, Quanell X said he will release video on Thursday that allegedly shows Houston Police Department officers beating another handcuffed suspect.
“Ms. Mayor, I've got another tape,” the activist shouted at the town hall meeting Tuesday night. “I’ve got a tape of your police officers. They've got a black man handcuffed, and they’re beating him, and kicking him and throwing him on the ground – and the tape will come out this week.”
A spokeswoman for the mayor said she had no knowledge of the video – and had only heard about it at the town hall meeting.