HOUSTON — Prosecutors said Thursday they remain confident four former Houston police officers can get a fair trial despite the release of a surveillance video that appears to show them kicking and stomping a teenage burglary suspect last year.
But the attorney for one of the officers charged with official oppression in the case said he is concerned after the video was aired a day earlier by KTRK-TV.
A community activist gave the Houston television station a copy of the surveillance video despite a court order by a federal judge in October that had barred its release before the officers' trials. It appears to show the officers kicking, punching and stomping on the then 15-year-old during his arrest last March at a self-storage business in southwest Houston.
Police said the teen was arrested following a brief chase after he and three others had allegedly burglarized a home. The teenager's mother has said her son's nose was fractured, and he had multiple bruises and limped after the beating.
The four officers have been fired and are set to be tried on official oppression charges later this year.
The teenager, now 16, was convicted in October in juvenile court of burglary and put on probation.
The Harris County District Attorney's office, the Houston Police Department and Mayor Annise Parker all had opposed release of the video before the officers' trial.
Parker said in a Thursday statement that while she remains "shocked and disgusted" by what she saw on the tape, the city "has fully supported the district attorney's desire to keep this video from being released prior to trial because we did not want to do anything that could jeopardize the prosecution of the police officers involved."
The district attorney's office issued a statement saying the release of the video was done "without the District Attorney's knowledge or consent."
Despite the tape's release, we will continue to do everything possible to ensure that both the State and the defense are given a fair trial," the statement said. "If the tape's public release violated any federal court order, the matter would appropriately be dealt with in that particular venue."
Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland Jr. said in a statement that he already has taken disciplinary action and wouldn't comment further "until the last case is adjudicated and or appealed."
Dick DeGuerin, the attorney for Andrew Blomberg, one of the five indicted officers, said his client never beat or hit the teenager but only moved his arm so he could be handcuffed.
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"The plain fact is the video is ugly," DeGuerin said. "The tendency is to think that they are all guilty of something, lump them all in the same category. Each one of their actions stands alone."