Two of 7 cops accused in beating case back on duty

September 21, 2012 4:33:17 PM PDT
They were fired from the police force after disturbing surveillance video came to light, but now two officers involved in the highly controversial arrest of a teenage burglar are back in uniform and back on the department's payroll.

One thing is clear -- their boss, the police chief and the mayor don't want them on the job. But there's nothing they can do about it.

Despite the appeals that got two officers their jobs back, the Houston chief of police says they should no longer be working at HPD.

Officer Guadencio Saucedo is back on the job now with HPD. He was one of the officers fired after the 2010 videotaped beating of 15-year-old burglary suspect Chad Holley.

Officer Lewis Childress kicked Holley as well on that day and was also terminated. But the two got their jobs back through appeals. A civil arbitrator reinstated them, much to the chagrin of the chief.

"To this day, I disagree with the arbiter," said HPD Chief Charles McClelland. "I think I made the right decision."

Despite the reinstatement, both Saucedo and Childress are now working in HPD's property room. The chief insists that is necessary to keep them from ever again having contact with the public.

"I feel like I made the right decision the first time when they were terminated from this organization," Chief McClelland said.

The Houston Police Officers' Union says roughly 60 percent of cases appealed by officers are overturned. That's a higher rate of reversal than Chicago, according to a professor there who looked at the system and found arbitrators overturned its police chief nearly 50 percent of the time.

HPOU President Ray Hunt said, "We believe it's the fairest way for officers to get a fair shake when they've been disciplined."

Hunt notes that in the Holley beating, while firings of Saucedo and Childress were overturned, the appeals of three other officers were denied. What's more, he notes, Saucedo and Childress were never charged criminally by a grand jury.

"The arbitrator didn't believe that and the grand jury didn't believe that," Hunt said. "The grand jury looked at it and chose not to indict them."

In the Holley beating, four other officers were fired. Four were charged with misdemeanor official oppression. One of the officers, Andrew Blomberg, was acquitted. The others await trial.


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