An explosive videotape that appears to show a group of Houston police officers beating a black teen burglary suspect last March has led to the firing and indictment of those officers, and a flaring controversy.
A surveillance camera caught the end of a police chase of 15-year-old Chad Holley, who had allegedly burglarizing a home. Holley goes right to the ground, face-down, hands over his head, as if to surrender.
But then, reports CBS News correspondent Seth Doane, one officer appears to stomp on Holley’s head, while others kick him. One cop seems to land five kicks. Then, another officer punches him again, and again. As he’s picked up, there’s another kick.
“They just started kicking me from there, and I blanked out,” Holley says.
The video wasn’t supposed to be seen yet by the public, but was leaked by community activist Quanell X of the New Black Panthers Party this week.
He told “Early Show on Saturday Morning” co-anchor Russ Mitchell he was “shocked” when he first saw the tape
“I was appalled,” he said. “I was absolutely angry at what they were doing, these police officers, to this young man who was on the ground. You could clearly see he surrendered, he gave up, and the beating he took was absolutely unnecessary. It was shameful.”
“We hear these stories all the time in our community, all the time,” local NAACP President D.Z. Cofield told reporters. “We just happen to have one that was caught on tape.”
A federal judge had barred the release of the video before a trial scheduled this summer, but then came the leak.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who’d supported the judge’s decision keeping the video under wraps, told a news conference, “I resent any implication that we were trying to hide the tape. We investigated. We turned that investigation over to the district attorney, we backed the district attorney, and we fired the officers.”,
Four officers have been indicted, charged with “official oppression,” a misdemeanor, not a felony. If convicted, each faces up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Mitchell remarked to X, “Defense attorneys and Houston police say it will be tough for the defendants to get a fair trial now that this tape is out there, and they are blaming you specifically for putting this tape out there.”
“I believe the people have a constitutional right to see the videotape,” X replied. “These are public servants in uniform, caught in the public, and this was caught on tape. And to say to the people that you could not see what they’re doing in uniform, in the public, is a disgrace and disrespectful to the citizens of Harris County, who have the intelligence and the ability to sit on a jury, look at the facts, put the pretrial publicity to the side and weigh the real information in this case.
“The videotape speaks for itself. There’s not much science to it. So to say that a jury can’t make a clear determination of what they’re seeing and weigh the facts in this case here in Harris County is an insult to the citizens and the people of Harris County.”
Excerpt, read more: Controversy Rages Over Houston Cop Beating Tape| CBS