Yesterday, an all-white jury found a former Houston police officer not guilty in the March 2010 beating of Chad Holley, despite the incident being caught on tape.
Although Holley’s beating was captured on camera and Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland Jr. testified that he believed the officer repeatedly kicked the teen, a six-person jury found former HPD officer, Andrew Blomberg, not guilty of official oppression, a misdemeanor.
The incident occurred in March 2010 when officers suspected then 15-year-old Chad Holley of burglary. After running from police, one officer struck Holley with his car and the others allegedly beat the teen.
The Associated Press reports:
In the security camera footage of the March 2010 arrest, Holley, who is black, can be seen on the ground, surrounded by at least five officers who appear to kick and hit his head, abdomen and legs. Prosecutors told jurors that Blomberg kicked the teenager several times. His defense attorneys countered that he was only trying to secure a potentially armed suspect.
A community activist released the video to the media, prompting fierce public criticism of the police department. Leaders in Houston’s black community said they believed the treatment of Holley was another example of police brutality against blacks and other minorities and that the misdemeanor charges were not serious enough.
Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland Jr. testified that he believed Blomberg kicked and stomped on the teen.
Several officers testified supporting Blomberg’s claim that Holley was resisting arrest. Blomberg and the officers told jurors that before arresting Holley, they had been told the teen and several other suspects were potentially armed and dangerous participants in a series of bold daytime burglaries.
Defense attorneys tried to portray Holley as a gang member and Blomberg told jurors he thought at the time of the arrest that the teenager might have been in a gang. Holley denied being a gang member.
The video of Holley’s beating and the subsequent acquittal of Blomberg has angered many in Houston, and have some claiming racism.
“It is pathetic. It is unacceptable,” the Rev. James Dixon of the Community of Faith Church told the AP. “This kind of expression says to me, to my children and to every black child in the city, ‘Your life is not worth manure.'”
Blomberg is the first of the four officers to be tried in the Holley case. Each of the officers have been fired by the Houston Police Department.