Chad Holley's Police Beating Is Subject of an Angry NAACP Town Hall Meeting

Categories: Crime

annise parker2.jpg
Mandy Oaklander
Annise Parker spoke at an NAACP town hall meeting last night.
Last night around 7 p.m., the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church was packed tighter than a month's worth of Sunday mornings. Hundreds swarmed to attend the standing-room-only NAACP town hall meeting about the recent video release of teenager Chad Holley being brutally kicked and beaten by police officers. Many gathered say police brutality against blacks isn't new for Houstonians. But for once, it was caught on tape.

At one table: Assistant Chief of Police Michael Dirden, Assistant Harris County District Attorney Jim Leitner and Mayor Annise Parker. At the other: a panel ready to crucify.

D.Z. Cofield, pastor of the church and president of NAACP Houston, moderated the discussion. "We're sitting on a powder keg that can explode...cooler heads prevail now, but cooler heads may not be able to prevail for long."

Quanell X, the activist who leaked the tape to the media, rose from the far table to speak. He introduced a woman named Cyndi Paxton, who gave him the tape. "Brothers and sisters, you had a right to see this tape," he said, directing most of his vitriol at Parker, who previously stated that she wished the tape to remain under wraps until the criminal trial.

Assistant Chief Dirden said that all of the police officers involved had been fired and that the police department was working with the FBI on the investigation. In the meantime, he said the department created a special squad training unit to make sure what happened to Holley never happens again. Though Dirden conceded, "You don't need special ethical training...to explain to the officers involved in this incident that what they did was wrong."

To the crowd gathered, the city's attempt to conceal the video from the public looked like an attempt to save face for the police department. But Parker claimed different motives.

"We wanted it to come out at the criminal trial. We wanted to make sure that the charges stick. And we wanted a local jury to sit," she said.

When she saw that the tape had been leaked, Parker was upset. "I was angry, because all I could see were police officers getting off," she said.

"What's different?" someone screamed into the warm air of the church hall.

NAACP town hall meeting2.jpg
Last night, church was packed.
Leitner, the short, graying assistant district attorney, took the podium. He tried to convince the crowd that concealing the video until trial would have led to harsher charges. "When we saw that tape, we saw it was a crime against this community," Leitner said, waving his hand over the crowd to emphasize the last two words. "We wanted to make sure this community is on the jury."

If you saw the video before the trial, Leitner said, you'd be influenced. "The law is that you're off the jury. We didn't want that to happen, so we kept it quiet."

Murmurs of "we don't trust you" rippled through the crowd.

And then, unwittingly, Leitner lit the powder keg. "We wanted you people to be able to make the decision," he said. People jumped out of their chairs, and a swell of "ooooh man, you used the wrong word" rolled through the room. Leitner's voice was drowned in the din.

Cofield stepped in, and Leitner sat down.

"Part of the frustration that you hear is because it's hard to expect us to hear those words and to take them as sincere with what the track record says," Cofield said, echoing the sentiments of the crowd. "I was told there's a different set of laws for police officers."

Demands from the panel included classifying the incident as a hate crime instead of its current charge as official oppression. It's the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. The panel called for a trip to Austin to change the law: When anyone is handcuffed and beaten by a police officer, the panel agreed, it should be a hate crime.

When Cofield dipped into the audience for questions, half the crowd raised their hands. Cofield picked six. Someone asked the gathered officials if they would have done anything differently with the case. Leitner said he wouldn't, but Parker had second thoughts. "If I had to do it over again, I would have released the tape," she said.

The meeting closed with no real solutions, but with the beginnings of a dialogue. "We're just asking for some courage, Mayor," one of the audience members said. "You have a black child. That could have been your child."

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19 comments
Peter Rabbitt
Peter Rabbitt

I am disturbed by the behavior of today's HPD. I recently moved back into the city and tonight walking in my neighborhood was spotted, shouted at and had a HPD vehicle accelerated as it drove up on me and screeched to a halt as the HPD officer shined a patrol car light in my face. Because I stopped and didn't respond to his commands to “COME HERE!” he gruffly exited his vehicle and pushed me hands down against his car and screamed "I’M THE POLICE!" All the while I realized I was in my hometown, bothering no one but a black man in the wrong place and hoping this would end well. The officer searched my pockets and laid the contents on his hood and placed me in the back of his patrol car, he then searched my wallet and ran my license, after seeing I had no warrants let me go. I continued my walk and thought that never happened in the predominantly Anglo city I relocated from, where I walked two miles a night for exercise in an all white community well after 10 pm.

While other may trust the police, and I know it is a difficult job. My experience tonight reinforced the belief that the police are not my friend's and a 6 ft tall, college educated, employed, black professional, who has never been convicted of a crime, is not who they exist to "protect and serve". I am who they believe they must protect others from. So, in conclusion, I have never like, trusted or had faith that the local city police, sheriff's, constables, troopers or marshals are my friends, be they black, white, Asian or Hispanic have my best interest at heart, nor my personal safety. So, I won't say that the criminal justice system is selective, but it is. Nor, will I hope ill will to those members of law enforcement I mentioned, but I do. And, lastly I don't think the grief of a parent or love ones of an innocent or brutalized CITIZEN, should hurt more than the families of fallen officers. While they do serve, they're lives are no more precious than the lives of those they have taken or the lack of dignity law enforcement officers show some of those they serve. While necessary, I see the HPD as SCUM, DESERVING NEITHER MY ADMIRATION OR RESPECT.

Blogwritr
Blogwritr

Interesting how a former chief said it was an "isolated incident." I guess Officer Abraham Joseph being implicated in multiple rapes while on duty is isolated too. There is a much larger problem within the Houston Police Department. There are more bad apples in that bunch than just a few.

Dave
Dave

I was appalled at what I saw in the video. There is no excuse for that!! Again, Quanell X is the instigator. They had this meeting to discuss changes that need to be made by the police department. Thats fine work together and get those changes made and lets move on. However, what needed to be discussed also at this meeting is. Why in the hell is that kid stealing? He got caught, Why in the hell try to out run the police. Why are his parents not protecting him and teaching him right from wrong? Why didn't D.Z. Coefield and Quanell X not discuss with his community what is right and wrong? Explain to them that if their stealing, selling drugs, drunk & drinking or have outstanding warrants they are not suppose to run. They broke the law now face up to it. The same old story that the police can't be tusted is hogwash. They can'r be trusted because they get caught, they run and then they get caught in ways that they are not suppose to. At this time they probably don't care about the betting, right now its all about the ...cha ching...cha ching..cha ching all the money they are going to have after they file a lawsuit against the City and the HPD. He is going to have the money that he lost out when he was caught.

Nmshoe
Nmshoe

The only thing more angry that the NAACP is the republicans

Freedom of Silence
Freedom of Silence

Better be careful how you say things here, you could be admonished.

Marksthespot33
Marksthespot33

A hate crime? So it's somehow wrong or immoral to hate a criminal? Call me guilty then. Because if somone stole, attempted to steal or otherwise, committed a crime against me, I damn sure ain't gonna like the person. I understand the community's frustration with perceived police abuse against said community's members, but calling this a hate crime is ridiculous. I doubt the officers' actions happened because the kid was black. But rather, because he was caught commiting a crime and ran from police(so as not to be apprehended). A thief, robber or murder is a dirt bag POS, regardless of their race.

Kyle
Kyle

Shame on Annise Parker and the City for trying to keep this tape under wraps. Any random criminal gets tapes of his convenience store robbery or assault broadcast on the local news repeatedly. Why is it just the police that are entitled to have the tape smothered so they can 'get a fair trial'? And why is it so critical that we ensure their fair trial on a shamefully low misdemeanor charge?

I despise Quanell X for various reasons, but between getting the confession out of Timothy Wayne Shepherd a while back and leaking this tape, I may be warming up to him.

Craig
Craig

And speaking of "courage" when are these baby mamma's going to have the courage to raise their kids right?

After all, this kid was convicted and guilty as charged.

Craig
Craig

The cops are getting what they deserve. Fired and charged. What is the big stink?

Are we supposed to give everybody reparations now?

Chris D
Chris D

The mayor gained a whole new level of respect from me by showing up to the meeting in the first place. She had to know she was stepping in a hornets nest and most city officials would have passed knowing they'd have to actually answer questions. Not everybody can take being on the hot seat for long...

H_e_x
H_e_x

The kid was viciously beaten. He has every right to sue for physical and emotional damages. Thia isn't about problems in the African American community, this is about a long and well documented history of police brutality.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Cry me a fucking river. What do you want to say so damn badly? The N word? Come on, just say it. Be a god damn man and say it. You know you want to.

Kyle
Kyle

Taking penalty kicks on a guy's balls while he's handcuffed and motionless certainly should be a felony, and I don't care if they call it a hate crime or a purple elephant.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

You're right. In hindsight, it was perfectly okay to beat the shit out of him BEFORE he'd been convicted since he's now considered guilty after all.

H_e_x
H_e_x

I don't even know why I'm responding to a race baiting troll. But for fuck sakes, stop acting like the beating was not a big deal.

Marksthespot33
Marksthespot33

I agree with you that someone shoiuldn't be abuse by officers after he's been taken into custody. My contention was with the idea that it should be treated as a hate crime. That's pure bullshit typical of the race and poverty pimps.

Craig
Craig

What else beside firing and charging the cops do you think needs to be done?

Oh right, r.e.p.a.r.a.t.i.o.n.s...

H_e_x
H_e_x

I'm not sure that word means what you think it does.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

Thanks for putting words into my mouth, but I'm pretty sure the point is to make sure it doesn't happen again.

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