The trial is underway for the last Houston police officer charged in the beating of burglary suspect Chad Holley. After opening statements jurors watched the videotape several times of an unarmed teen burglary suspect being beaten by several Houston police officers. This is the official oppression trial for former HPD officer Drew Ryser. Ryser was one of several officers fired from the department accused of using excessive force on 15 year old Chad Holley and it was all caught on camera but with just one videotape how is it possible to come up with two very different explanations for what the officers are doing on the tape? "This was textbook. You're going to see some kicking going on. You're going to see a disturbing and aggressive scene but that's how arrests happen, especially when you're arresting felons," Ryser's Attorney Carson Joachim told the jury.
According to prosecutors, what's on the videotape is not what police officers are supposed to do when they come upon a suspect who is not resisting. In fact, the video shows the HPD officers approaching the 15 year old after chasing him down and successfully cutting him off with a patrol car. Holley is seen rolling onto the ground, then onto his stomach where he lays flat on the ground with his hands on his head. That's when prosecutors say instead of taking the teen into custody the officers started beating him instead. "Kicks from these officers. Hits from these officers and kneeing and punching, rubbing his face in the ground by these officers," says prosecutor Tommy LaFon.
The video was actually captured by surveillance cameras at a nearby storage facility. A worker for the storage company cried on the stand as she talked about how she "was very upset" when she saw what her company's cameras had captured.
Houston Police officer Tiffany Jefferson, Ryser's training instructor at the academy, also spent a good amount of time on the stand. Jefferson says when a suspect is laying in Holley's position officers should grab his hands, cuff him and take him into custody. She says it would spark an extremely dangerous scene to walk up and hit and kick a suspect because the alleged offender then starts moving to shield himself and you create an out of control environment.
Former officer Ryser says he is "Not guilty your honor," Ryser stood and declared in court.
"In our eyes he (Ryser) is a hero and he was brave on this day," says Joachim. Ryser is the fourth and final officer to go to trial. Andrew Blomberg was acquitted. Phil Bryan and Raad Hassan took plea deals, avoiding jail time and receiving two years probation instead. Houston Chief of Police Charles McClelland Jr. and Chad Holley are expected to testify. Holley is actually currently serving jail time for another burglary.
"Just like Chad Holley was held responsible for what he did in regards to this burglary I expect after you hear all the evidence you will hold this defendant responsible for what he did," LaFon told jurors. The trial will continue at 10:00 a.m.