HOUSTON — A dash-cam video shows four Rice University police officers trying to arrest a man last summer for stealing a bike then, after four minutes, two of the officers began to use batons to hit the suspect repeatedly.
”It makes me sick, makes me sad. Makes me want to throw up,” said Jenice Moulton, a Rice University area resident.
The department has been criticized for how the officers handled the arrest. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office has been investigating the arrest for several months.
”Frankly, if he was crying out for help, or in pain, they could maybe assume that he didn’t have a weapon under his shirt,” said Joseph Formella, a Rice University student.
The video documents 37-year-old Ivan Waller resisting the officers for ten minutes, keeping his right hand hidden.
”We don’t know if the person’s armed. We don’t know if they’re on parole or probation,” said Rice University Police Chief Johnny Whitehead. “In my judgement, they used the batons properly.”
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson called some of the tactics shown on the video disturbing, but the grand jurors decided they did not constitute a crime.
Whitehead admitted the officers may need more training.
“So he’s trying to use a technique he’s been taught, but not using it properly,” said Whitehead as he pointed to the dash-cam video.
Waller pleaded guilty to stealing the bike. KHOU 11 News reached out to Waller for comment, but he was not home. Rice University police said Waller never made a complaint regarding his arrest and the department has made changes moving forward.
”My officers did everything they could to secure him, or not hurt him seriously. I think they did the best they could in a difficult situation,” said Whitehead.
Now Rice police carry pepper spray and the chief said they’re getting additional training.