Local

New details in HPD teen beating case

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eyewitness News has learned all four of the Houston police officers indicted in the beating of an unarmed teenage burglary suspect posted bond on Thursday. We've also learned more details about the alleged beating.

Those four HPD officers were indicted Wednesday on misdemeanor charges by a grand jury. Jurors viewed the unreleased surveillance video of the alleged attack and heard from high-profile witnesses, including Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland and 16-year-old suspect Chad Holley, who claims the officers beat him outside a storage facility in southwest Houston back in March.

The four officers did not make a court appearance on Thursday while posting bond. According to KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy, unlike a felony charge, you don't have to appear or report in person to post bond on a misdemeanor charge. Androphy says defendants can do it through a bond company, for instance.

Even though the officers are facing misdemeanor charges of official oppression, the four officers will be tried in felony court because of their status as public officials.

The only court date that has been set so far is for Officer Raad Hassan, 40, who's facing charges of official oppression and violation of civil rights of a person in custody. His case is set for July 23.

New details of alleged beating

Court documents released Thursday provide some details of the alleged beating of Holley, who was 15 at the time.

According to the documents, Officer Hassan "kicked Holley with his foot while knowing that his conduct was unlawful." Officer Andrew Blomberg is accused of "striking the complainant with his foot." Officer Phillip Bryan is accused of kicking the teenager and striking him with his hand, while Officer Drew Ryser kneed Holley, according to the documents.

All four indicted officers have been terminated, as have three other police officers for their involvement. Five more officers were disciplined for policy violations unrelated to the arrest of Holley, according to Chief McClelland. Those five officers received two-day suspensions and will undergo refresher training.

Like Officer Hassan, Officer Bryan, 44, is charged with official oppression and violation of civil rights of a person in custody. Officers Blomberg, 27, and Ryser, 29, are charged with official oppression. All face up to one year in prison and a $4,000 fine if convicted on the misdemeanor charges.

Outrage over unreleased videotape

The calls for more serious charges against the now former officers are only getting louder, and the district attorney's refusal to make the video public is sparking serious outrage and concern.

It was a show of solidarity Thursday from the Houston Ministers Against Crime. At a press conference, members of the organization demanded to see the videotape of the alleged beating.

"We need to see that tape. It must be something that's really bad. The suspicion is growing. If it's just a misdemeanor, let us see it," said Reverend Robert Jefferson.

The ministers are calling on the Harris County District Attorney's Office to end what they say is a "good old boy" system. They believe the Harris County grand jury system is broken and is in desperate need of an overhaul.

"Our problem for years has been that the grand jury does not represent the makeup of this city as far as blacks are concerned. We've got a problem with that," said Reverend James Nash.

They say the indictments don't go far enough. The group is demanding that misdemeanor charges against the four officers be upgraded to felonies.

Though he understands their frustration, Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland says it would require a change in state law.

As for the videotape, Chief McClelland believes making sure the officers get a fair trial outweighs public interest.

"Are we going to lose anything that the videotape will be shown at trial versus right now? No. The public will still be able to criticize, judge, evaluate my actions, the DA's actions, and the grand jury's actions," said Chief McClelland.

The DA wants to wait until the case goes to trial before making the tape public so the indicted officers can get a fair trial. And Houston Mayor Annise Parker issued a veiled threat Wednesday against anyone who would leak the video to the public.

"Anyone who has an unauthorized copy of that has stolen property, in my opinion," Mayor Parker said.

Ultimately, the ministers say this is not a black and white issue, and that anyone who's concerned about justice should be concerned about what the grand jury did.

"It is the entire city of Houston's fight," said one minister.

They also called on the Harris County District Attorney's Office for more transparency in the legal system.

Stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for continuing coverage of the controversy surrounding the officers' indictments.

(Copyright ©2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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