HOUSTON - A high-powered Houston attorney is now answering questions about how Rice University police officers handled the arrest of a bike thief.
Attorney Rusty Hardin said he has been retained to represent the University in this matter.
Local 2 Investigates obtained a video showing Rice police officers striking Ivan Joe Waller several times with a baton after a he stole a bicycle from campus. As Local 2 has reported, we only obtained a portion of a video that sources said is several minutes in length.
Rice officials declined Local 2's requests to view the entire video to better understand why officers felt the level of force they used was necessary.
Hardin said he has seen the entire video.
"(Do) you believe the officers acted appropriately?" asked Local 2 Investigator Robert Arnold.
"What I believe is there's a much fuller picture," said Hardin. "There's a judgement call as to whether they acted appropriately, but what you're not going to see is officers trying to give him a beating."
Hardin said the full video shows officers repeatedly tried to handcuff Waller, but that he continually resisted.
"After about five or six minutes they are still not able to get this guy under control. He's lying on the ground with a hand underneath (him) and he will not pull it out," said Hardin.
Rice officials have stated an internal review of the incident concluded that the officers acted appropriately given Waller's level of resistance.
"The chief concluded that things could have been done more effectively and better, but he also concluded it wasn't an unreasonable use of force," said Hardin.
Hardin also said, in light of this incident, Rice's police chief did feel his officers needed more training in how to deal with combative suspects.
"They'll be more use of force training," said Hardin. "You have to remember Rice police are not usually in these situations."
Hardin said when the Harris County District Attorney's Office completes its investigation into the officers' actions, the University will release the entire video.
"What you'll do is question as to whether they did it right, not whether they were trying to hurt the guy," said Hardin.
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