Guilty verdict in trial against ex-HPD officer accused in teen beating

Drew Ryser was convicted in the beating of teenage burglary suspect Chad Holley

HOUSTON - A jury Wednesday afternoon reached a guilty verdict in the trial against former Houston police officer Drew Ryser.

He was found guilty of official oppression in the 2010 beating of teenage burglary suspect Chad Holley.

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

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

Ryser remained stoic as the judge read the words, "The verdict is, we the jury find the defendant guilty of official oppression as charged in the indictment."

The courtroom was packed with Ryser's family. Father-in-law Jim Smith said they were surprised; they expected Ryser to be acquitted.

"It's not life-threatening or devastating, but yes we're very upset and we're going to go home and we're probably spend a not very good night tonight," Smith said.

The verdict means the jury determined Ryser deliberately mistreated an unarmed Holley after his arrest for burglary. That incident was recorded on surveillance camera video that community activist Quanell X first made public almost three years ago.

"Now he's a convicted criminal and the public can see and the message sent by this jury, the jury did send a message that this kind of behavior by law enforcement officers is not going to be tolerated in Houston," said Quanell X.

Ryser was defended by attorneys from the Houston Police Officers Union.

HPOU President Ray Hunt said Ryser was an outstanding police officer.

"We are disappointed in the decision, however we respect the decision of the jury. The jury has spoken and we respect that verdict," Hunt said.

Ryser was sentenced shortly after the decision. He'll serve a two-year probated sentence and pay a $1,000 fine.

Officer Andrew Blomberg was acquitted, while Officer Phillip Bryan and Officer Raad Hassan took plea deals. Bryan and Hassan were sentenced to two years deferred adjudication and each ordered to pay a fine.

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland released a statement, "I respect the judicial process and would like to thank the jurors for their diligence and hard work.  I have consistently maintained that the actions taken by the individuals involved in this incident do not reflect the values of the Houston Police Department.  There are more than 5,300 officers working hard every day to serve the people of Houston with honor, integrity and respect.

"Houstonians have instilled a great deal of trust and responsibility in the men and women of HPD. The Houston Police Department will continue to live up to that commitment and strive to be the most professional law enforcement agency in the United States."

The NAACP also released a statement Wednesday afternoon, which read in part, "Today's conviction... provides a glimmer of hope for our Harris County criminal justice system that far too often turns a blind eye to justice by acquitting rogue law enforcement officers and issuing disproportioned sentences to minorities."

A federal lawsuit Holley filed against Ryser, the three other officers and the City of Houston is pending.

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