HOUSTON -- A couple of police officials prosecutors called to the witness stand raised doubts about the scenario presented by defense attorneys in the trial of a police officer charged with the videotaped beating of Chad Holley.
Defense lawyers have told jurors that former officer Andrew Blomberg was trying to kick Holley s arm so that other officers could handcuff him as he lay on the ground. But an HPD academy instructor called to testify raised questions about that tactic, saying officers are not trained to kick the arms of suspects they re trying to arrest.
The technique that he is using is one that I ve never seen before, said Terry Bratton, a tactical instructor at the academy. Bratton later said the purported restraint tactic just doesn t make sense to me.
Video images captured by a surveillance camera show several officers kicking and striking Holley after the fleeing burglar tumbled over the hood of a patrol car that cut off his escape. Attorneys for both sides in the case repeatedly played the tape, stopping it and enlarging the image, during Bratton s testimony Friday morning.
Blomberg is the first of four officers charged in the case to go to trial. He s charged with official oppression, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.
Bratton demonstrated for the jury how officers are trained to handle suspects on the ground. His testimony indicated that Blomberg wasn t following procedures officers are trained to practice in those situations, but he hastened to point out that officers face a myriad of situations on the street that they don t face in the academy.
Bratton also acknowledged to defense attorney Dick DeGuerin that Blomberg might have been practicing pain compliance, essentially hurting a suspect who s not complying with an officer s commands.
Bratton admitted he was uncomfortable testifying against the fired police officer. In response to a prosecutor s question, he agreed that he wouldn t have testified if he hadn t been subpoenaed.
But the leader of the city s largest police union, who sat in on the testimony Friday, came to the fired officer s defense.
Any police officer who is dealing with an armed suspect should use the force necessary to make sure that suspect is secured and the officer is safe, said Ray Hunt, the president of the Houston Police Officers Union.
Also in the courtroom were members of the National Black United Front and the New Black Panther Party, who noted that all the jurors who will pass judgment on Blomberg are white.
They re trying to tell us that the officer was trying to use his foot to put his hands behind his back, said Krystal Muhammad with the New Black Panther Party. So I guess the officer eats with his feet. I guess the officer opens the door with his feet.
Holley testified Thursday that he briefly passed out when the officers shown in the video started beating him. He was later convicted of burglary and sentenced to two years of probation.
Testimony is scheduled to resume Monday afternoon.