Officer accused in teen beating appeals firing

November 16, 2010 3:45:13 PM PST
A police officer fired for his part in the beating of a teenage burglary suspect says he should be back on the streets fighting crime, and that "one kick" isn't enough to ruin his career. On March 23, seven Houston police officers surrounded then 15-year-old Chad Holley, who was at that point a potentially armed, potentially dangerous burglary suspect. The police chief says those officers hit and kicked Holley excessively and those seven officers were fired.

On Tuesday at an appeal of one of those firings, the chief said by the time even the first kick was delivered, Holley had stopped resisting.

Former Houston Police Officer Gaudencio Saucedo admits he kicked Holley once on the inner thigh back in March. It was part of the now infamous videotaped burglary arrest outside a west Houston storage facility.

Officer Saucedo's attorney Tuesday said kicking the 15-year-old shouldn't be enough to get the officer fired and he wants an independent arbitrator to give him his job back.

"We're thrilled to have this in front of an arbitrator. We'll take our chances with an arbitrator," said attorney Aaron Suder.

Saucedo's chances might be pretty good. Of the 12 officers disciplined after the incident, six have had their punishments reduced by arbitrators already. Saucedo would be the seventh.

"It ought to call into question the judgment that's being made at HPD," Suder said.

Officer Saucedo's attorney repeatedly said this is a politically charged case and the firings of seven officers were designed to calm a tense political situation. That's a claim HPD Chief Charles McClelland denied.

"As police chief, some days are better than others," he said.

While testifying Chief McClelland told the arbitrator that one kick was unjustified and a sign Saucedo lost control. The chief said he fired Saucedo after he lost trust in him adding he has "no place to assign an employee I've lost confidence in."

That videotape, by the way, was played at the hearing, but not to the public. After viewing it again on Tuesday, Chief McClelland said once it is released, "every man and woman who wears this uniform and badge will be scrutinized, criticized and it will erode confidence in the department."

"This organization is a good organization. HPD is not out of control and this is an isolated incident," the chief said.

Four of the fired officers are still waiting for their own misdemeanor trials. None of them have been given their jobs back. A decision on Officer Saucedo likely won't be made until just before Christmas.

It was a crime of burglary that got the attention of police in the first place. Last month, Chad Holley was found guilty of breaking into a townhome. He was put on probation until he turns 18.

Stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com as we continue to follow the latest developments in the officer beating investigation.


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