New allegations of excessive use of force by HPD

February 11, 2011 9:06:13 AM PST
There are new allegations of inappropriate actions by Houston police. Surveillance video was released Thursday afternoon that some say shows excessive use of force.

Community activist Quanell X says the Houston Police Department has a problem with excessive use of force that is systemic. He introduced alleged victim Henry Lee Madge, 27, who says he was beaten unnecessarily and charged with resisting arrest after an incident at Memorial Hermann Hospital.

According to Madge, he was at the hospital with his son -- who was getting his appendix removed -- when a disagreement ensued over the volume of a television in a hospital waiting room. Madge says he first was questioned by hospital staff, then an HPD officer approached him and was verbally abusive.

"Out of the blue, the cop came up behind me, yelling," Madge said.

He then said he offered the officer one of his hands and the officer put the handcuffs on "real tight." When Madge complained, he said the officer pulled out his baton and threatened to hit him in the face if he didn't offer his other hand to be cuffed.

The tape is from a pair of hospital security cameras that show Henry Madge being arrested by a Houston police officer. There is no audio on the tape. Madge, 27, says what you see is an unprovoked use of force when he's punched in the head and thrown to the ground. And he says even more happened out of the camera's view.

"Grabbed me up by my collar, threw me on the wall, spitting in my face, shoving my head with the palm of his hand against the wall, screaming, 'You think you're tough, you think you're tough!'" Madge said. "All I could do was just cry and blow my breath like, whew."

According to court documents, the date of arrest was June 22, 2008 and Madge resisted arrest by "ramming his shoulder into (officer's) chest."

"On the police report, he (the officer) said this boy did things that never took place," said Quanell X.

Madge had no criminal history at the time and was charged with resisting arrest. Court records show that charge was later dropped.

This is the second videotape in a week showing alleged excessive use of force by police released by community activist Quanell X, who says there are more of varying degrees of violence.

"What we're showing is, how this young man was charged with resisting arrest -- he was never resisting arrest -- how this man was compliant in handcuffs and assaulted by an HPD officer," Quanell X said.

Madge says he came forward only now, more than two years later, after seeing the video of Chad Holley being beaten by HPD officers. Those here to release and watch Thursday's tape say something needs to happen.

"This is a movement that will not die until complete, constructive total change takes place in the city of Houston with the Houston Police Department," Quanell X said.

"This is a fire that's burning that must be put out. And justice is the only way to do that," said Bishop James Dixon of The Community of Faith Gulf Coast.

"We need to be prepared. We need to have video cameras on our phones to make sure that we're watching out for things like this," said NAACP member Justin Milburn.

The Houston Police Department on Thursday evening issued the following statement:

"When we obtain a copy of the tape, we will review it and the case files to determine the facts of this particular incident. We will conduct an investigation and any additional comments will be made in accordance with our normal investigative procedures."

Houston Mayor Annise Parker released a statement Thursday evening:

    "We are reviewing this video and continuing to gather information about this incident. I reiterate that police abuse will not be tolerated. Those who feel they have been a victim at the hands of Houston police should do exactly what this young man did and file a complaint with the Houston Police Department's Internal Affairs Division.

    I am planning to update City Council on changes to the Citizens' Review Committee in the near future, and I have asked Chief McClelland for a presentation on departmental training and personnel concerns processes. We are also placing a link on the city website to facilitate citizen access to the internal affairs process."

Madge says he did contact HPD's internal affairs department, but got no results.

Before Thursday afternoon's news conference, Quanell X was in the ABC13 studio, along with NAACP Houston Branch President Dr. D.Z. Cofield, for a taping of 'Crossroads' to talk about the video showing the controversial arrest of Holley last year. He told 'Crossroads' anchor Melanie Lawson the reason he wanted the tape to be made public.

"And for so long, so many young brothers were making this outcry of being victimized and brutalized by excessive use of force with police officers. No one believed them. And I knew this tape would give some validity to many of their outcries that this is actually taking place," Quanell X said.

You can see more when 'Crossroads' airs this Sunday morning at 11am on ABC13.

Stay tuned to Eyewitness News and for the latest.