Jurors began deliberations Tuesday in the trial of a former Houston police officer who has been accused of beating a teenage burglary suspect.
Andrew Blomberg was fired along with three other officers after they were caught on videotape kicking and stomping burglary suspect Chad Holley in May 2010. Blomberg was charged with misdemeanor official oppression and faces up to one year in prison if he is convicted by the jury.
The jury did not reach a verdict Tuesday. The juror were sent home for the night and will continue deliberations on Wednesday.
Shortly before closing arguments began at 10 a.m., uniformed officers were asked to leave the courtroom. The bailiff said an HPD captain ordered the officers out.
"I talked to the captain who allegedly issued that order," Houston Police Officers Union President Ray Hunt said. "He said he issued no such order."
The officers were allowed to return to the courtroom. Their presence drew criticism from some Chad Holley supporters.
"It's a blatant attempt to intimidate the jury to come back with a verdict in their favor," community activist Quanell X said.
During closing arguments, a prosecutor told jurors that the case is not about Chad Holley or his character. The prosecutor said, "You must decide whether fired HPD officer Andrew Blomberg mistreated Chad Holley alone or with a party, which he knew was unlawful by striking Holley with his foot. And was it justified?"
The defense said prosecutors did not prove their case and Blomberg was entitled to a not-guilty verdict.
"I want you to be proud of your verdict in saying, 'Andrew Blomberg, you did a good job,'" defense attorney Dick DeGuerin said. "Andrew Blomberg is a hero. What he did that day took guts and courage. It was a heroic act."
Each side got one hour for closing arguments.
The jury was asked to answer the questions, "Did Mr. Blomberg, acting alone or as a party, intentionally subject Chad Holley to mistreatment that he knew was unlawful by striking Chad Holley with his foot? And if he did so, was he reasonable? Was he justified in using that force?"
Prosecutors called two final witnesses on Monday before resting their case.
One of the witnesses was Ken Katsaris, a former sheriff in Florida who investigated the Ted Bundy serial murders. Katsaris now trains police officers in the use of force in high-risk situations.
He told the jury that Blomberg was not following police training when he was seen on videotape stomping Holley.
When asked by prosecutors if Blomberg's actions, as seen on the videotape, were reasonable, Katsaris replied, "no, his actions were objectively unreasonable and contrary to any legitimate police action. In my opinion, the blow by Blomberg to the prisoner (Chad Holley) amounts to mistreatment."
However, as the jury watched the videotape, Blomberg's attorneys stressed that the former officer was in a tense and rapidly evolving situation.
DeGuerin tried to get Katsaris to agree when he asked if Blomberg's actions were bold, brave and courageous.
Katsaris did not agree and instead testified that, based on his evaluation, the former officer's actions were not bold, brave or courageous.
An all-white jury of six men and women plus one alternate have listened to the testimony in the trial and will decide the fate of the former officer.