To Serve and Protect

Chad Holley is fifteen year old kid from Houston.  On a school day in early 2010, Mr. Holley and some buddies from school left to participate in the burglary of a west Houston townhome where cash, jewelry, and a musical keyboard were later reported missing.

When the police showed up, Holley bolted and tried to flee the scene.  He was clipped by a patrol car in the pursuit and cornered:  once he realized he was caught, however, he immediately lay down flat on the ground displaying his hands in a surrender position.

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And that’s when the beating began.  Chad was kicked and punched repeatedly in the head, face, and upper body by as many as four Houston Police Department officers as he lay defenseless on the ground.  One officer then continues to viciously stomp legs as they lay motionless.

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Chad was convicted of the burglary charge by a jury in a Harris County court in October 2010 – it was a first time offense for him and he received probation until he turns 18.  His three friends plead guilty to the charges.

And if this were any other case, that would be the end of it.  But it just so happens that the entire incident was caught on videotape by security cameras at a storage facility.  A video that the D. A. worked hard to keep the public from seeing.  And after viewing it, you will agree that there is no defending the officers, four of whom have been charged with crimes.

Houston Police Officer’s Union Executive Director Mark Clark: “We have thousands of officers who do a great job every day and they’re not involved in this. Police officers do the best job they can do. This is a case that has to be sorted out. It’s serious and it’s a reflection on the department. But we have to let the system work. There’s 4 people who’ve been charged and we’ll have no comment on that until it’s resolved in the courts.”

I fully realize that being a police officer is a dangerous job – even a scary job at times.  I understand that there is often more to the story than we hear about and that it’s difficult not to be on edge when any person you come into contact with could be hiding a deadly weapon.  But there is no defending beating a minor who is laying on the ground, still, hands in the air.

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Does it make it more acceptable because Chad was later found guilty?  The commenters on various news stories sure seem to think so – that it’s perfectly acceptable to beat anyone – even a minor because he’s probably guilty of a crime.  But that’s not how we operate in this country.   That is never how we have operated in this country – it goes against the fundamental principles of justice no matter your race, religion, or politics.

And after all this, what if he truly wasn’t guilty?   First and foremost, we are innocent until proven otherwise by the trier of fact – the judge or the jury.  Police officers do not get to make that call and we should not stand for that kind of rogue justice.   But the truth is, he wasn’t beaten for any other reason than the police were high on a chase and pissed as hell at this kid – they weren’t in danger and he wasn’t in danger of escaping.   And sure he was convicted, but what if he wasn’t?

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Here’s a link to the video – you should watch it.  We need to remind ourselves that this happens – that it’s not just a figment of the most paranoid among us.  Mostly it happens when no one is looking to people who no one will believe, but it still happens.  And we need to be outraged – because next time, it could be your kid or your friend or family member.  And that one won’t be caught on video.

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2 Comments

  1. Linda said,

    February 21, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Disgusting. It happens everywhere, and I suspect, with more frequency than anyone wants to admit. It happened in my area recently, with a man beaten to a pulp, and it all caught on video. He had surrendered… and was posing no threat. With mass-media availability and the proliferation of information across media platforms, this sort of thing becomes global, enters our subconscious and become the basis of how we form opinions – and then we are left to wonder why our youth don’t respect or recognize the authority figures in their lives? Sure it’s only a few bad apples… but it taints them all, and we all know that most of the law-enforcement officers around the world, not just in the US, would lay their lives down for their work, it’s a shame that all of those hard-working men and women who live their lives with integrity get lumped into the same category as these disgusting examples.

    • February 21, 2011 at 3:12 pm

      Thanks Linda – and I’m sure it’s upsetting for other officers to see this too. It’s embarrassing and disappointing when I see someone in my profession be convicted of stealing from a client or disbarred for unethical conduct and it does cast a cloud on the profession as a whole, which is frustrating.


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