Chad Holley (15 year old) ran from Houston police following a burglary — but as soon as he was captured, he immediately stretched out on the ground and put his hands behind his head. But before arresting him, a pack of officers descended on him, stomping, kicking and punching the young man until he blacked out, and leaving him with a broken nose.
Despite this, the officers who beat Holley have only been charged with misdemeanors. All four were charged with “official oppression,” while two of them face an additional misdemeanor charge of violating Holley’s civil rights. Each charge carries a maximum of a year in prison — a light penalty for such a clear abuse of power and violation of the public’s trust.
But this is bigger than just the actions of these four officers — Houston Police Department (HPD) has a problem. Misbehavior is rampant among Houston police, with more than 14,000 complaints against HPD officers over the last six years — half of which were upheld. But the real amount of misconduct is likely to be much greater, with much of it not being investigated. Because Black residents distrust the process — and even fear retaliation due to holes in the process — many don’t ever file complaints against police officers.
HPD has painted Holley’s beating as an isolated incident of misconduct, but that’s hard to believe if you watch the video of the incident. Officers attacked Holley simultaneously and without hesitation, as if this kind of violence is routine. There were no fewer than a dozen officers on the scene during the beating, yet HPD leaders didn’t learn of the assault until the security video was mailed to the chief of police and District Attorney — all the officers on the scene were silent until then, willing participants in a cover-up.
This speaks to an important reality: Chad Holley’s beating appears to be the product of a problematic culture within the Houston Police Department — one where officers don’t fear punishment, and where they stick together to hide serious incidents of misconduct. Most recently, this led Houston activist Quannell X, who released the Chad Holley tapes to the public, to announce the release of several more videos of unwarranted police violence.