HOUSTON Four Houston police officersindictedin connection with the videotaped beating of a teen burglary suspect posted bond overnight.
Officers Andrew Blomberg, Phillip Bryan, Raad M. Hassan and Drew Ryser were fired after the indictments were handed down. All four men were charged with official oppression, and Bryan and Hassan were also charged with violating the civil rights of a prisoner.
Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos saidall of the charges areClass A Misdemeanorspunishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Chief McClelland said Officer Lewis Childress, Officer Gaudencio Saucedo and Sgt. John McClellan, who were involved but not indicted, were also fired.
Five other officers were given two-day suspensions for policy violations unrelated to the alleged beating, McClelland said.
The incident occurred on March 23 after a police chase involving multiple members of the west side gang task force and one member of an HPD tactical unit.
Burglary suspect Chad Holley, a 16-year-old Elsik High School student, claims he was attacked by the officers while in custody and handcuffed.
After I got out of the car, and I landed on the ground, after that, they started waving my hand like I was resisting arrest or something, and then they just started kicking me from there, and I blacked out, he told 11 News back in April.
Holley, who was 15 at the time of the incident, said he did not resist arrest. The teen claims he was face down on the ground while officers punched him in the face and kneed him in the back.
I was scared at first, he said. I thought they were going to handcuff me and then just put me in the car, but after that they just started kicking me and made my head rush.
After his arrest, police took the teen to a juvenile detention center.
The incident was caught on surveillance cameras at a nearby business, Uncle Bob s Self Storage. Nearly a month later on April 20, the company s corporate office mailed copies of the surveillance footage to HPD and the Harris County District Attorney s Office, Lykos said.
McClelland received his copy of the tape on April 22 and immediately called Lykos and the local office of the FBI.
Both HPD and the DA s Public Integrity Division launched independent investigations, which eventually led to Wednesday s indictments, Lykos said.
The mission of law enforcement is to serve and protect. And to effectively perform our duty it is imperative that we have the respect and the cooperation of our citizens. People should know and be assured that the Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney s Office will thoroughly investigate and vigorously prosecute those who abuse their positions of trust, Lykos said.
Officials who ve watched the video, including Houston Mayor Annise Parker, have expressed dismay about what they saw.
As I have stated before, what I saw on the videotape was disturbing. It is not something that should happen with any law enforcement agency, and certainly not for the Houston Police Department and to any citizen of the City of Houston, Parker said Wednesday.
It was not clear when the video will become public, but top city officials have expressed concern about the reaction the tape might cause.
I m not a lawyer, I m not a judge, but certainly I believe that discipline in this instance is warranted and I can fully understand the decision by the grand jury to indict these officers, Parker said.
Both McClelland and Parker expressed their support for the men and women of HPD who risk their lives to protect and serve with integrity.
The officers of the Houston Police Department who do a great job for us each and every day deserve our full support, and they need to know that when there are officers that behave toward a citizen in an inappropriate manner, that will be investigated and it will be punished, Parker said.
She said McClelland came to his decision to fire the officers on his own.
I firmly believe the actions that I have taken today were in the best interest of the department, the employees and most importantly, the citizens of Houston, McClelland said.