This controversial police beating case has dragged on for three years now. We watched in court as the final officer charged in this case told the jury that he's not guilty.
Drew Ryser kept a straight face as he quietly entered the courtroom through a back door, presumably to avoid media attention before trial Monday morning. The former Houston policeman is among a group of fired officers accused of beating up teenage burglary suspect Chad Holley during this controversial arrest that was caught on tape back in 2010.
Special prosecutor Tommie LaFon said, "You're going to realize it was the officers in this situation who made this an unsafe arrest. It wasn't what Chad Holley did, it was what they did."
LaFon told the jury of six men and women that Ryser mistreated then 15-year-old Holley by punching and kicking him, and by rubbing his face into the ground as the boy was lying face down, with his hands on his head in a prone position.
"The people at the juvenile detention facility take one look at him and say, umm mmm he's not coming in here," LaFon said. "You need to take him to the hospital."
But Ryser's defense team quickly snapped back, painting a different story about the man's alleged actions for the jury.
"In our eyes he is a hero, and he was brave on this day," said defense attorney Carson Joachim.
Joachim says the former officer's use of force was justified. He told the jury Ryser and the other officers on video always stayed one level above force they were met with from Holley.
"One of the supervisors of Drew had told the whole unit these guys had just committed a burglary the day before and had stolen firearms," Joachim explained. "He said they are probably armed, you need to proceed with extreme caution."
Ryser's charge is a class A misdemeanor of official oppression. If found guilty, he faces up to a year in jail. The other officers linked to the beating have already settled their cases. Two of the other accused former officers, Phil Bryan and Raad Hassan, took a plea deal. Earlier this year they both pleaded no contest to the charges of official oppression and were sentenced to two years deferred adjudication. The third officer, Andrew Blomberg, was acquitted of official oppression charges last year.
The teenage suspect at the center of the case, Chad Holley, is in jail. He was sentenced to six months for a different burglary last year.
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