HOUSTON (AP) — A former Houston police officer was found not guilty Wednesday in the 2010 videotaped beating of a 15-year-old burglary suspect.
A six-person jury found Andrew Blomberg not guilty of official oppression, a misdemeanor. He had faced up to a year in jail if convicted.
Blomberg, 29, was the first of four fired police officers to stand trial for their roles in the alleged beating of Chad Holley.
During his trial, Blomberg testified he didn’t mistreat Holley and denied kicking or stomping on the teenager’s head or neck. Blomberg said he only used his foot to move Holley’s arm after the teenager refused to comply with an order to put his hands behind his back. The ex-officer said he never stepped on Holley’s hand or arm.
Holley, now 18, testified that he didn’t resist arrest and that he briefly lost consciousness during the daylight attack.
In the security camera footage of the March 2010 arrest, Holley, who is black, can be seen on the ground, surrounded by at least five officers who appear to kick and hit his head, abdomen and legs. Prosecutors told jurors that Blomberg kicked the teenager several times. His defense attorneys countered that he was only trying to secure a potentially armed suspect.
A community activist released the video to the media, prompting fierce public criticism of the police department. Leaders in Houston’s black community said they believed the treatment of Holley was another example of police brutality against blacks and other minorities and that the misdemeanor charges were not serious enough.
Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland Jr. testified that he believed Blomberg kicked and stomped on the teen.
Several officers testified supporting Blomberg’s claim that Holley was resisting arrest. Blomberg and the officers told jurors that before arresting Holley, they had been told the teen and several other suspects were potentially armed and dangerous participants in a series of bold daytime burglaries.
Defense attorneys tried to portray Holley as a gang member and Blomberg told jurors he thought at the time of the arrest that the teenager might have been in a gang. Holley denied being a gang member.
Holley was convicted of burglary in juvenile court in October 2010 and placed on probation.
A federal lawsuit Holley filed against Blomberg, the other fired officers and the city of Houston is pending.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.