HOUSTON — A former Houston police officer accused of taking part in the videotaped beating of a 15-year-old burglary suspect told jurors Friday that he didn't mistreat the boy during his arrest.
Andrew Blomberg testified that he didn't kick Chad Holley's head or neck during the March 2010 arrest, and only used his foot to secure the teenager's arm after he tried to run away from police officers who were investigating a break-in.
"Did you intend to mistreat?" asked Blomberg's defense attorney, Dick DeGuerin.
"No sir, I did not," replied Blomberg, 29, who was fired after being accused in the alleged violence.
Blomberg is charged with official oppression, a misdemeanor, and faces up to a year in jail if convicted. He is the first of four fired police officers to stand trial in the case.
A security camera recorded footage of Holley's daylight arrest. The boy, who is black, is seen being knocked to the ground by a police squad car then surrounded by at least five officers, some of whom appear to kick and hit his head, abdomen and legs. Prosecutors say Blomberg kicked the teenager several times.
A community activist released the video to the media, prompting fierce public criticism of the police department. Black community leaders said they believed Holley's treatment was another example of police brutality against minorities and that the misdemeanor charges were not serious enough.
Blomberg told jurors that after Holley was on the ground, he only used his foot to yank the teenager's arm back.
"I run right up to him. I yell at him, `Get your hands behind your back.' I don't see him complying. I use my foot, to try to move his hand back," Blomberg said, adding he was one of several officers trying to arrest Holley.
The fired officer said he repeated his effort to secure Holley's hand with his foot before running off to help another officer who was trying to arrest another suspect.
Holley, now 18, has testified that he didn't resist arrest as he lay on the ground and that officers hit him so much that he briefly lost consciousness. Holley was convicted of burglary in juvenile court in October 2010 and placed on probation.
Blomberg told jurors he thought Holley might be in the Bloods gang because he was wearing a red shirt. The teenager has denied being in a gang.
Several officers who testified for Blomberg also said Holley was resisting arrest. Blomberg and the officers testified that before arresting Holley, they had been told the teen and several other suspects could be armed and dangerous participants in a series of bold daytime burglaries.
Before testimony began Friday, state District Judge Ruben Guerrero denied a defense motion to find Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland Jr. in contempt of court for discussing the case with the media after he testified earlier this week. McClelland had told reporters that Blomberg and the other indicted officers should have been charged with felonies instead of misdemeanors.
Guerrero told attorneys in the case to remind witnesses that they can't discuss their testimony.
A federal lawsuit Holley filed against Blomberg, the other fired officers and the city of Houston is pending.
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