Black Community Threatens Protests and Investigations
A jury’s acquittal Wednesday of a former Houston police officer in the alleged beating of a 15-year-old burglary suspect during a videotaped arrest upset black community leaders who criticized the verdict as unjust and racist. Andrew Blomberg, 29, was the first of four fired police officers to stand trial for their roles in the alleged beating of Chad Holley during a daylight arrest on March 2010. The incident involving the black teen, now 18, prompted fierce public criticism of the Police Department by community activists who called it another example of police brutality against minorities.
Blomberg fought back tears after the verdict was read, then hugged his attorneys and started to cry as he embraced his parents. He could have faced up to a year in jail if convicted of official oppression, a misdemeanor that alleged Blomberg as a public servant intentionally mistreated Holley by kicking him.
“This is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do in my entire life,” Blomberg said, referring to being a police officer. “And I’m just glad this part is finally over.” He said he will “take a deep breath” before deciding whether to pursue another job in law enforcement.
During his trial, Blomberg, who is white, testified that he didn’t mistreat Holley and denied kicking or stomping on the teen’s head or neck. He said he only used his foot to move Holley’s arm after he refused to comply with an order to put his hands behind his back.
Jurors declined to comment after the verdict. Community activists who were gathered in the hallway outside the courtroom yelled “Racism!” and “Injustice!” after hearing the outcome. “It is pathetic. It is unacceptable,” the Rev. James Dixon of the Community of Faith Church said of the jury’s decision. “This kind of expression says to me, to my children and to every black child in the city, ‘Your life is not worth manure.’”
Quanell X, the community activist who had released the video of the alleged beating to the media, called the verdict “wrong” and criticized the lack of blacks or other minorities on the six-person jury.
“They knew what they were doing with an all-white jury,” he said. Blomberg denied that his actions during the arrest were racially motivated. To those who insist Holley was treated a certain way because of his race, Blomberg said, “They weren’t out there that day.” His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, also said “it is not and was not a racial thing.” “It’s been made into that by others for their own reasons,” he said.