After analyzing the not guilty verdict in the case of former Houston police officer Andrew Blomberg, there might be greater understanding on why the jury did not find him guilty.
Taken as a whole, the videotape that shows officers stomping on teen burglary suspect Chad Holley is disturbing, but the jury was asked to look at just Blomberg's role; he is the officer who got to Holley first after chasing him down, as well as the officer who left Holley first to chase another suspect.
Blomberg says he was using his foot to sweep Holley's hands from above his head to behind his back, so this is before Holley's wrists were placed in handcuffs, and Holley's hands did move in position to be cuffed; then Blomberg leaves and the other officers are the ones seen on surveillance video apparently kicking Holley.
"Blomberg was there first. He was there for four seconds and left. And you know, he really kind of did what we expect police officers to do, he subdued the suspect, got him under control, then he moved on to something else," says FOX 26 legal analyst Chris Tritico. "Their culpability is a lot greater than his was."
Tritico tells FOX 26 he believes once prosecutors go to trial, they would not ever admit that their case against Blomberg might have been weaker than the other officers' cases, but perhaps it was.
Prosecutors also are criticized for seating an all-white jury. "How in the hell is an all-White jury going to give black people justice?" community activist Quanell X asked.
FOX 26 News visited with Blomberg's defense attorney, Dick DeGuerin, who explained, "Most of the black Americans on the jury panel disqualified themselves because they'd already made up their mind ... yes, they were candid about it and said they'd seen the video and just couldn't be fair. How big was the jury pool hand? How many black potential candidates were dismissed? I think it was 60 members of the jury panel originally, and probably a good third of that, 20 or more, but almost all of them ... there were only two of them when we got down to the final panel and both of those disqualified themselves in my mind."
DeGuerin elaborated to FOX 26 later that one of those potential black jurors was disqualified because that person worked in the Harris County District Attorney's Office, while another, he said, was a man who told them he had been falsely arrested by Houston police almost 30 times, but he felt he could be impartial, and DeGuerin did not agree that he could.
"I think it's as racist to say it was an all-White jury as it is to say that this was a racial deal," he said in the jury's defense.
If you'll remember, it was activist Quanell X who released that video in 2011 despite pleas from the mayor, judges, and Houston's Police Chief.
"He shot himself in the foot because once that came out, then it did polarize the people in the city. He fed that claiming it was racial so what happened was most of the people who had seen that video had made up their minds and they would not be impartial jurors," DeGuerin said.
That left all the potential African American jurors off the panel and Blomberg to face what X calls an all-White jury. However, the activist refuses to accept blame for no Blacks on the panel.
"What Dick DeGuerin did was insult all Black people because we could look at the video tape and still weigh all of the facts on both sides and come back with a just verdict. It's an insult to all of us," Quanell X said.
Three other Houston officers who are now fired also face charges in Holley's arrest. When the jury pools for those cases are chosen, will there again be potential jurors who are black who will be struck from the jury because they have already made up their mind?
For that reason, DeGuerin says he would like the entire community to stop prejudging these cases. These are the factors that cause cases to be given changes of venue.
In the meantime, we wanted to know why there were only a dozen or so potential jurors in the Blomberg case. Harris County records show, on an average, 3,500 people are called for jury duty everyday. African Americans make up only a small part of that number.
DeGuerin says, "The jurors are summoned based on their voting or drivers license and historically been a push in the Black community to get more voter registration."
But X points to my exclusive 2009 report on FOX 26. We obtained an internal email from a prosecutor at the Harris County District Attorney's office. It read a fellow prosecutor was able to win a case despite a Canadian getting on the jury. Canadian was code for African American.
"At the end of the day, what can the prosecutors do to make sure they allow African Americans to be on diverse juries? They can do more, but they don't want to do more. They've demonstrated they don't want to do more", Quanell X said.