Suspensions dismissed for 5 officers in teen beating

HOUSTON Lawyers at the Houston Police Officers' Union got what they wanted for their clients -- the reduction of discipline, which means the officers' records remain in good standing.

The alleged beating of then-15-year-old Chad Holley is at the center of the action. Holley claims Houston police officers kicked and hit him enough to send him to the hospital.

Holley was unarmed, but a burglary suspect when the alleged beating took place back in March. The incident was recorded by surveillance cameras and seven officers were terminated. Four of the officers were indicted and charged with misdemeanor official oppression. They're set to appear in court again in September.

Thursday's civil grievance hearing involved five other Houston police officers who originally were given two days' suspension -- a reprimand that the union says was unfair.

"These officers did not witness the arrest of Chad Holley; they had nothing to do with the arrest of Chad Holley," said Aaron Suder, a lawyer for the union. "They happened to be at the scene, chasing and struggling and subduing several other burglary suspects while this arrest of Chad Holley was taking place."

The officers involved in the grievance hearing were M. Novak, R. Opperman, L. Vaughn, R. Abel and K. Cockrill. Their punishments were reduced from a two-day suspension to a written reprimand.

Lawyers for Holley's family wouldn't comment, saying the action doesn't interfere with their federal civil rights lawsuit filed against two of the officers that were terminated.

The federal lawsuit accuses Andrew Blomberg of violating Holley's civil rights and of beating Holley during his arrest in March. The suit claims Holley suffered brain damage, memory loss and post traumatic stress disorder.

A spokesperson for HPD responded to us Saturday, telling us that the decision to downgrade the disciplinary actions was made by an independent arbitrator. The spokesperson confirmed that the five previously suspended officers will be given written reprimands instead.

HPD Chief Charles McClelland, who originally handed down the two-day suspensions, wanted to make clear that he had nothing to do with the ruling and neither he nor the administration can appeal the decision, said the spokesperson.

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