Chief: HPD officers simultaneously punched, kicked suspect

HOUSTON The letters paint a disturbing picture of what is alleged to have happened March 23. Using videotape it obtained from a self-storage business security camera, HPD Internal Affairs pieced together a case strong enough to fire seven officers.

Those seven officers were terminated by HPD Chief Charles McClelland on June 23 after suspect Chad Holley, 16, claimed the officers beat him outside a storage facility in southwest Houston during the teen's arrest for a house burglary back in March. Surveillance video of the incident has not been released.

Four of the seven terminated officers were indicted by a grand jury and face misdemeanor charges. Raad M. Hassan and Philip N. Bryan have been charged with official oppression and violation of civil rights of a person in custody. Andrew T. Blomberg and Drew W. Ryser have been charged with official oppression.

The disciplinary letters, all dated June 23, detail each officer's specific involvement in the incident as the department sees it.

According to the disciplinary letter sent to Officer Hassan by Chief McClelland, "the video clearly shows that Mr. Holley subsequently lay on the ground and placed his hands behind his head and neck area, in an obvious position of surrender." Despite his prone position, it says "Officer Hassan then ran toward Mr. Holley and kicked him a total of 15 times. Officer Hassan then stepped around Holley's prone form and kicked Mr. Holley several more times in his groin or inner thigh area."

The letter states that after officers handcuffed the suspect, "Officer Hassan kicked him one more time."

It quotes Hassan as saying, "I then kicked Holley's upper arm and shoulder area to cause Holley to release his arm and to allow officers... to get handcuffs on him."

The letter to Officer Bryan stated that the video shows him "kicking Mr. Holley several times about his head and shoulder area. Officer Bryan then went to Mr. Holley's left side and then delivered several punches to his side."

Bryan's explanation in the letter says, "I used a leg sweep with my right foot to the suspect's clasped hands in an effort to get the suspect to take his hands off his head, unlock them and spread them out."

In Officer's Blomberg's letter, it states "the video evidence clearly shows Officer Blomberg stomping down on the back of Mr. Holley's head or neck area with a great deal of force."

Blomberg says in the letter, "I was concerned because the suspect's hands were not down behind his back. I then kicked at him to put them down behind his back."

In a letter to another indicted officer, Drew Ryser, it states, "video evidence shows Officer Ryser kicking Mr. Holley twice on his right side. Further, Officer Ryser delivers three knee strikes and punches at Mr. Holley, while other officers are simultaneously punching and kicking him."

The letter offers Ryser's explanation, "I was hoping the knee strikes would decrease his ability to keep his hands under his body."

As for the three other terminated, but not indicted, officers, Gaudencio Saucedo's letter states, "video evidence shows Officer Saucedo approached Mr. Holley and swiftly kicked Mr. Holley on the inside of one of his legs."

In the letter to Lewis M. Childress, it reads, "Office Childress then delivered two light kicks with his foot in an attempt to get Mr. Holley to release his arms."

And in the disciplinary letter sent to the supervisor that night, Sgt. John McClellan, it states he "displayed improper supervisory conduct and unsound judgement (sic) while at the scene of the arrests."

All seven officers are appealing their indefinite suspensions.

Raad Hassan's attorney sent us a statement which reads, "We are looking forward to an unbiased fact finder to take into account Officer Hassan's experience of events during the arrest of the burglary suspect. We will be contesting HPD's hindsight version in court as well as appealing Officer Hassan's termination."

The four indicted officers face up to one year in prison and a $4,000 fine if convicted on the misdemeanor charges.

Five other police officers received two-day suspensions and will receive refresher training.

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