HPD officers accused of beating suspect

April 29, 2010 8:59:25 AM PDT
Eight Houston police officers have been relieved of their duties because of what the department says happened near a west Houston storage facility. A person who saw security camera video of it says it shows the officers beating a suspect. Even with signs prominently posted, Houston police officers were on caught on tape.

Their actions are being described as unbecoming, at best. And according to activist Quanell X, they were animal-like.

"A pack of hyenas on a piece of raw meat," he said.

Quanell has seen the tape, which was taken more than three weeks ago. He tells us officers were chasing an African American drug suspect. He ran and ended up cornered on the property of a storage facility.

"When they got him, and they threw him down to the ground, they put his hands behind his back and handcuffed him immediately, and they just started beating the living hell out of this kid," Quanell X said. "They beat this kid and beat him and beat him."

And then they celebrated.

"You see them high-fiving each other -- congratulating each other," Quanell X said.

Quanell says several officers were white, but one he calls the worst offender, was black.

"You would think an African American gentleman perhaps raised and coming out of the same environment as the rest of these young African American males -- why would you do something like that?" he said.

He fears what may happen when the tape is made public.

"The tape is so horrific there will be an outcry," Quanell X said. "The tape is so serious, black people are going to respond with anger and outrage."

But he vows to try to keep the peace.

"Becoming violent in this situation is not going to solve anything," he said. "What is it going to do?"

Quanell X wouldn't identify the man allegedly beaten, but he said he spent several days in the hospital with serious injuries before being booked into jail.

An employee at the storage facility gave Quanell X a copy of that video. He gave one to Houston police and says he hasn't released it because he wanted to give police a chance to investigate, but he says he will release it if police don't.

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland wouldn't go into details about the case, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.

"All I'm going to say is, I have looked at some portion or reviewed some evidence, which was given to me, that I have concerns about," he said.

Chief McClelland is promising a full investigation, including a probe by internal affairs at HPD.

All of the officers involved in the incident were from the Westside Command Division's tactical unit and have been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation. The Houston Chronicle reports that the suspended officers have already met with union attorneys.


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