Last HPD officer's trial begins in Holley beating case

Officer case begins in beating of Chad Holley

HOUSTON - The trial for the final Houston police officer to face charges in the Chad Holley beating case began Monday.

The arrest and videotaped beating from three years ago created a firestorm of criticism in Houston and across the country.

Drew Ryser was one of four HPD officers involved in the arrest of Chad Holley, who was 15 years old at the time of the beating.

Caught with accomplices burglarizing a house, Holley tried to run when a storage lot surveillance camera candidly recorded the unarmed teen being beaten and kicked by officers after he was knocked down by a police car.

Special prosecutor Tommy LaFon told jurors Monday the video showed that Holley was already on the ground, with his hands on his head, by the time Ryser got to him.

"Kicks from these officers and hits from these officers, and knees from these officers, and rubbing his face in the ground from these officers, and punching," said LaFon.

But the defense contends Ryser simply followed his training in arresting Holley, pointing out police are allowed to strike or, in some cases, kick suspects who resist arrest.

"In our eyes, he's a hero and he was brave on this day," said defense attorney Carson Joachim.

He told jurors Holley was no typical teenager, but a burglar that police had been tracking for months -- a potential threat.

"These officers do not have the luxury of hindsight 20/20," said Joachim. "They don't have that luxury. They're in the moment. These are tense, rapidly evolving and uncertain situations."

The first witness put on by the prosecutors was the storage lot manager, Savanna Stivender, who turned over the video of the beating. She wiped away tears as she watched the video played for the jury.

Another witness, HPD training officer Tiffany Jefferson taught Ryser defensive tactics while he was a cadet at the police academy. Jefferson told jurors that once Holley was on the ground in a defensive posture, he should not have been hit or kicked.

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