HOUSTON Court documents released Thursday detail the videotaped beating of a teen burglary suspect by Houston police officers.
Four officers: Raad Hassan, Andrew Blomberg, Drew Ryser and Phil Bryan, are charged with official oppression in connection with the arrest of 16-year-old Chad Holley. Hassan and Bryan are also charged with violating the civil rights of a prisoner. All four officers turned themselves in and posted bond overnight.
In addition to the charges, the four officers were fired by HPD Chief Charles McClelland after a Harris County grand jury indicted them on Wednesday.
According to court documents, Hassan kicked Holley with his foot while knowing that the conduct was unlawful.
Blomberg is accused of striking the complainant with his foot.
Court documents said Ryser kneed Holley during the arrest.
Bryan allegedly kicked the suspect with his foot and hit him with his hand.
Two other officers and a sergeant who were allegedly involved but not charged in the incident were also fired Wednesday, and five officers were suspended for two days for violations unrelated to Holley s arrest, McClelland said.
The charges all Class A Misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine were not well-received by the victim s attorney and some community activists.
After the indictments were handed down, Holley s attorney said his client was too upset to talk to the media. The attorney said they wanted the officers to be charged with assault, which would carry a stiffer penalty.
Community activist Quanell X said he believed race played a factor in the charges that were filed.
I believe that the racial makeup of the grand jury played a significant role in such watered-down, lukewarm charges coming back against these officers. Yes I do, the activist said.
District Attorney Pat Lykos described the grand jury as diverse.
In a press conference Thursday morning, the Houston Ministers Against Crime called for harsher charges, more transparency and a more diverse grand jury.
They emphasized that the issue isn t that Holley should go unpunished if he committed the crime, they said he should pay the price.
But they called for a civilian review board to look at these cases particularly those involving civil rights.
I am somewhat tired and weary of everything leaning on us. [Like] it s our fight, Lloyd Williams said of the African-American community. No, it is the entire city of Houston s fight. It s River Oaks fight. It s Bellaire s fight. It s everybody s fight. Everybody have a kid.
But those misdemeanor indictments might not be the end for the officers. In fact, 11 News legal expert Gerald Treece said they re just the beginning.
A federal grand jury can look at the same conduct. It doesn t matter what the state does, the federal grand jury can also say that there was a violation of this individual s Constitutional rights, Treece said.
Take the police brutality case in Los Angeles involving Rodney King, for example.
Nearly two decades ago, a highly publicized videotape showed officers hitting King with their batons. The officers were acquitted in state court, but two of them were later found guilty in federal court for civil rights violations.
Meanwhile, at a news conference Thursday afternoon, HPD Chief Charles McClelland said he understands where the concern is coming from.
There s a lot of people who don t understand or may not have read the statute. They re just saying that, well, if the tape or if the evidence is so compelling or so bad, why they re not charged with something more serious, McClelland said.
Right now, the FBI is monitoring the state investigation, but has not opened one of its own.
Only after the state case wraps up will the feds make their reports and present them to the Department of Justice.
It s also important to note that even though the officers have been indicted, that doesn t mean they ll be found guilty of any wrongdoing.