HOUSTON (AP) — More than 200 people marched in front of the Harris County criminal courthouse in Houston on Thursday to protest the acquittal of a former Houston police officer in the alleged beating of a teenage burglary suspect.
The protesters say racism was behind the acquittal Wednesday of fired Houston police officer Andrew Blomberg by an all-white jury.
However, Blomberg attorney Dick DeGuerin told the Houston Chronicle that jurors told him no single element of the case decided their verdict.
Leading Houston black community activists addressed protesters outside the downtown courthouse. Former Houston city councilwoman Jolanda Jones told the crowd that the verdict is “business as usual” and that there is only one way to change things.
“You better get registered and you better vote,” she said.
Houston community activist Quanell X encouraged the crowd, which included white, black and Hispanic protesters, to not ignore summons to serve in juries.
“The cops can only be held accountable right here,” Quanell X said as he pointed to the Harris County criminal courthouse behind him. “All-white juries can never happen again. No more all-white juries!”
There were no arrests reported, despite a police presence that was not usual for the courthouse area. One person sat down in front of an entrance to the criminal courthouse in an act of protest but was not arrested.
Blomberg, 29, who is white, was the first of four fired police officers to stand trial for their roles in the alleged beating of Chad Holley during an arrest in March 2010. The incident involving the black teen, now 18, prompted fierce public criticism of the Police Department by community activists, who called it an example of police brutality against minorities.
In the video footage from a security camera, which jurors were shown in court, Holley is seen falling to the ground after trying to hurdle a police squad car. He’s then surrounded by at least five officers, some of whom appear to kick and hit his head, abdomen and legs. Prosecutors told jurors Blomberg kicked Holley several times.
Jurors declined to speak to reporters after the trial, and state District Judge Ruben Guerrero placed their identities under seal. However, they spoke with trial attorneys. At least two jurors said they believed Blomberg did not stomp on the 15-year-old suspect’s head as prosecutors alleged, but rather made a sweeping motion, DeGuerin told the Chronicle.
“A couple of the jurors said they definitely saw the ‘pull back motion’ of Andrew’s foot that Andrew described,” DeGuerin told the newspaper.
DeGuerin also said the jurors acquitted because prosecutors failed to prove Blomberg acted unreasonably.
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