Mayor, HPD chief testify in cop beating case

August 23, 2011 8:26:59 AM PDT
Can Houston police officers accused of beating a teenage burglary suspect get a fair trial in Harris County?

You may remember this controversial video shown first to Houstonians in an Eyewitness News exclusive. It showed several HPD officers beating Chad Holley, 15 at the time, in March 2010. Attorneys for four officers charged in the beating are asking for a change of venue because of all the pre-trial publicity. On Monday, Houston's mayor and police chief weighed in on the issue.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker had no comment as she left court Monday afternoon. Earlier, she faced a barrage of questions from attorneys in the change of venue hearing for the four Houston police officers accused of beating teenage burglary suspect Chad Holley. Mayor Parker told attorneys she was shocked when a staffer told her the controversial surveillance tape had been leaked to Eyewitness News earlier this year.

"I had a minor temper tantrum. No, I was not aware of it," she said in court.

The surveillance tape -- from a local storage facility which allegedly shows four officers hitting and kicking Holley after his arrest -- has garnered a flurry of local and national attention. While the officers' attorneys insist their clients can't get a fair trial in Harris County, Mayor Parker, who admits she never wanted the public to see the tape except in a court of law, disagreed.

"I hear regularly from the African-American community about their concerns for more oversight within HPD. I'm approached about police brutality concerns in general, not specific to the Holley case. People want to talk about other incidents, not this one," Mayor Parker said in court.

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland told attorneys his department has struggled to overcome negative publicity since the release of the tape.

When defense attorney Dick DeGuerin asked Chief McClelland in court today, "Is it true officers are being more challenged on the streets due to a lack of trust?" He replied, "Yes."

Chief McClelland stated having the trial in Harris County could help resolve the majority of those public trust issues.

"Citizens should be able to sit in judgement over members of HPD," he said in court.

Testimony resumes Tuesday morning at 9:30am. The judge is expected to make a ruling in this case at some point on Tuesday.

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