HOUSTON One of the officers charged in the videotaped beating of a burglar has admitted in court that he struck the suspect in the head and kneed him in the shoulder.
But Drew Ryser testified the blows were only intended to force the burglar to show his hands, largely because the former officer thought the suspect might be reaching for a gun in his pants.
The goal is that it hurts, Ryser testified. And because it hurts he complies with the commands to get his hands out from underneath him.
On the witness stand, Ryser basically narrated the now infamous video shot by a surveillance camera outside a southwest Houston self-storage warehouse. Attorneys for both sides asked him to step down from the stand and demonstrate his actions, from the first steps he took around the suspect to the moment when he dropped to his knees and struck Holley.
Ryser is the last fired police officer charged in the beating case to go to trial. He was the partner of Andrew Blomberg, who has already been tried and acquitted in the case.
After he tumbled over a police car during a foot chase, Holley ended up with his face down on the ground with his hands over his head in what prosecutors characterize as a universal gesture of surrender. Ryser testified he grabbed one of Holley s sweaty arms, but he said Holley pulled his arm away and put it beneath his body.
Ryser testified he decided to punch the teenager in the nose in an attempt to make him pull his free hand to his face, but he ended up striking the back of the suspect s head. When that didn t work, he said, he kneed Holley in the shoulder. After that didn t work, he said he bowed Holley s shoulders upward to free his arm.
I was worried he was about to shoot himself or somebody else, Ryser said.
Ryser, who was fired after the 2010 incident, is the last of four officers to go to court in the case. He could face up to a year in jail if he s convicted of the charges stemming from the beating of Holley, who was running from police chasing him after a burglary in southwest Houston.
Although the videotape shows Holley lying on the ground with his hands raised over his head, Ryser s defense team has argued that Holley was actively resisting police officers. A supervisor had told the officers that the burglary ring, that included Holley, had stolen some firearms in a burglary a day earlier, so he warned them to use caution.
Prosecutors told jurors the officers made a dangerous situation even more dangerous when they started kicking and hitting Holley as he lay on the ground.
The videotape recorded by a surveillance camera mounted outside a nearby business shows Holley running next to chain-link fence, then tumbling over the hood of a police car that cut off his escape route. A number of police officers ran to Holley as he flipped over on his stomach and places his hands atop his head. Several officers then beat and kick him on the ground.
The case may go to the jury as early as Friday.