Two former Houston police officers reach plea deals in Chad Holley beating case

April 24, 2013 6:19:45 PM PDT
Two former Houston police officers have reached plea deals over the 2010 beating of a burglary suspect which was captured on surveillance video, generating national headlines and sparking outrage locally.

Those officers were set to begin trial here next week, and only Eyewitness News was in court Wednesday morning as they accepted those plea deals.

The officer-involved beating case gained national attention. But in a quiet move at the Harris County Criminal Courthouse, Phil Bryan and Raad Hassan, two former Houston police officers, both appeared before a judge Wednesday morning accepting plea deals for their role in that videotaped beating of Chad Holley back in 2010.

"I think both sides, as in any compromise, got a little bit of what they wanted, gave up a little bit of what they wanted," said Aaron Suder, defense attorney for Bryan.

Bryan and Hassan are among the four officers fired and indicted on official oppression charges after the shocking video was revealed in 2010. It shows a group of officers kicking, punching and stomping then 15-year-old burglary suspect Holley during an arrest.

On Wednesday, both Bryan and Hassan pleaded no contest, and with that deal a judge sentenced them to two years deferred adjudication, which is a form of probation. Hassan was fined $750 and Bryan $500, but neither will serve jail time.

"Any decision not to go to trial is a calculation of the risk, not so much an admission of guilt in all cases. So that's what we did we calculated the risk of going to trial," said Joe Owmby, who represents Hassan.

Last year, Bryan and Hassan watched as a jury find former HPD officer Andrew Blomberg not guilty of official oppression for his role in the videotaped arrest. Because of this plea deal Hassan and Bryan won't have to go through trial.

"We think it was an offer that allowed him to go on with the rest of his life. He will not be associating with law enforcement," Suder said.

For now, only one former officer, Drew Reyser, remains on track to stand trial in this controversial case.

Though is wasn't part of the plea deal, lawyers tell us it's likely Bryan and Hassan's law enforcement licenses will be suspended.

Eyewitness News was the first to show you that controversial video. At the time, it sparked an uproar from the community.

The video was supposed to be the unimpeachable evidence against four Houston police officers charged in the beating of Holley after a chase. Instead the first trial resulted in an acquittal.

Ex-officer Andrew Blomberg was the first officer to go to trial last year. He was acquitted by an all-white jury back in May. Two other officers who were fired after the beating, got their jobs back after an arbitrator looked at the case.

Wednesday's plea deals means two other defendants won't be going to trial. To Deloyd Parker, it means more than that.

"That doesn't make it right. That doesn't make it justice. Justice is you get what you earned; in this case they earned some time," Parker said.

After the acquittal, there was a loud outcry. Wednesday took more than a few people by surprise.

"If you're given that amount of responsibility and authority and you accept it, then you ought to be man enough to accept the consequences of the responsibility and authority you were given," said Markus Davis.

One former officer charged in the Holley case will go to trial. As for Holley, he remains in jail, sentenced to six months and seven years deferred adjudication for a subsequent burglary last year.

"It's unfortunate that Chad Holley burglarized houses that day and ended several persons careers and ended a future for him as well," said Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers Union.

Houston's Mayor Annise Parker said, "The goal was to have them not interact with citizens of Houston as Houston police officers ever again and we accomplished that goal immediately. This judicial process, or legal process, is in the hands of the district attorney."

Those officers will not be able to return to HPD at any point in the near future. In addition, the plea amounts to a guilty charge as far as their law enforcement certification in Texas and they will not be able to be eligible for another law enforcement permit for at least 10 years.

Community activist Quannel X has been one of the most vocal critics of police in the case. He was at the courthouse Wednesday morning moments after the plea deals were made.

"There's a double standard of justice in this building. And it has to be consistent. When cops are criminals, treat them as such. When criminals are criminals, treat them as such. Let's not have two standards of justice for law enforcement officers when they become criminals themselves," he said.

Quannel X says he's concerned about the case involving the third officer, since it is expected to be heard in the same courtroom.

The Houston branch of the NAACP released a statement saying the plea deals are a "disappointment."


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