Calls for federal probe into police beating video

February 7, 2011 3:52:50 PM PST
Calls for a federal investigation are getting louder by the day after ABC13/KTRK released controversial surveillance video of a 15-year-old boy being beaten by Houston police officers during his arrest.


Eyewitness News was the first to show you that surveillance video last week. And now as the city fights to keep those officers from being allowed back on the force, some lawmakers have stepped in asking the feds to look at potential civil rights violations.

The video that until last week went unseen by the public, shows Chad Holley, 15, clipped by a police car, then kicked and beaten by Houston police. Earlier, he was accused of burglarizing homes. Holley was caught after a brief chase. The video is stunning even to those who are in law enforcement.

J.C. Mosier was with the Houston Police Department for years and was in his share of chases.

"Where you're gonna have more of an adrenalin rush, excitement, fear, nervousness -- every emotion comes out during a chase like that," said J.C. Mosier, former Houston police officer.

He is not commenting on the officers' actions in the Holley case, but he knows how situations can escalate.

"You can't help but want to, you know, 'Man, this idiot; let me get my hands on him.' But you can't do that," said Mosier.

That may explain how it happens, but it doesn't change the outcome. Seven officers were terminated by the city, a total of 12 disciplined and it's all on video. It may be one of the first such Houston cases to be recorded.

In the wake of the video's release, a Houston congressman wants the investigation to go federal.

"That video speaks for itself. And because it speaks for itself, we want the Justice Department to review it and make a determination as to whether or not charges should be brought," said Representative Al Green of Houston.

The video was aired last week exclusively on Eyewitness News. It was given to us by community activist Quanell X. The city and the district attorney had refused to release it and one city council member believes that was a mistake.

"Whoever the powers that be are, or who did have authority, decided another route, and we are where we are and 10 months later, I think people are wondering if that was a prudent thing to do," said Houston City Council Member Jolanda Jones.

Rep. Green said he plans to make that request to the Justice Department in writing.

"I will absolutely make it clear that we would like an investigation, because there may be civil rights violations at question here," said Rep. Green. "If we do have civil rights violations, we want to make sure that the law is applied to those who breach the civil rights of others, if such violations exist."

State Representative Garnet Coleman released a statement concerning the police beating video. It reads in part, "The kicking and stomping of a 15-year-old boy by these officers was brutal, unwarranted and shameful. It is especially disturbing when those charged with keeping us safe so blatantly abuse their power and violate our trust. ... Individuals are not above the law and must be appropriately dealt with."

In the statement, Coleman also applauded Mayor Annise Parker and Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland for "dealing swiftly and directly with the bad actors."

Houston City Council Member C.O. Bradford also released a statement, saying in part, that the charges filed by the district attorney against the four officers are wrong; that there was a failure by Houston police officers to self-report this incident; and that the arbitration of police disciplinary actions must be modified.

We've posted that controversial video of Holley's arrest online. You can see it in its entirety and leave us your opinions on the officers' actions here.