HOUSTON - A juror who failed to show up delayed testimony Tuesday as the final Houston police officer faces charges in the videotaped beating of then-teenage burglary suspect Chad Holley.
The arrest and videotaped beating from three years ago created a firestorm of criticism in Houston and across the country.
Court proceedings came to a halt Tuesday as no witnesses took the stand for hours because one of the jurors didn't show up.
The jury box remained empty all morning while bailiff's tried to track down the missing juror. Shortly before lunch time, he walked into courtroom. No explanation was given.
At about the same time, community activists were voicing concerns in the hall about problems with the jurors.
"We now have learned there are some jurors complaining about another juror not staying awake during trial. Then we learned there was one other juror who just disappeared for four hours and they could not find him," said community activist Quannel X. "And I'm hoping and praying the judge will take some time to question all the jurors in this case to make sure there's not some ongoing problem."
Judge Ruben Guerro may have done that, but he didn't say. The judge, attorneys and the court reporter met in chambers for about 15 minutes, then reconvened court.
The judge then instructed the six jurors and one alternate that they must be on time each day, and if they want to communicate with him they must do it in writing.
The jury is hearing the case against former HPD officer Drew Ryser, one of four officers fired and indicted after the arrest and beating of burglary suspect Chad Holley, who was 15 years old at the time.
The first witness, Sgt. Adam Turner, took the stand at 2 p.m.
Ryser is charged with official oppression. A misdemeanor that could get him up to a year in jail if he is convicted.
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