One cop, Andrew Blomberg, was acquitted last year in the beating of Chad Holley. Will the same happen for another Houston police officer, Drew Ryser? A trooper and Texas Ranger took the witness stand in his defense to explain why it should, using a vision and language that only they know. From the Houston Chron :
Jess Malone, a former state trooper who has assisted in the investigation of more than 100 police misconduct cases, said that Ryser’s hand strikes in the arrest of Holley, then 15, were justifiable given the situation.
Ryser admitted striking Holley during the arrest. However, he denied kicking Holley, saying a move seen in the video was a rugby maneuver called a “stab step.”
Malone testified that while he does not believe Ryser kicked Holley, doing so would also be within the confines of police protocol. “Kicking is perfectly legal,” Malone said. “It may be distasteful, but it’s legal.”
A kick becomes a “stab step.” Either way, perfectly legal.
Lying on the ground, flat on one’s stomach, hands above one’s head. It could be a “fighter’s stance” because “anything’s possible.”
Malone testified that the arrest scene was “very chaotic” and very risky. When asked by prosecutors if the risk dissipated when Holley was on the ground and being struck, Malone continued to defend the officers’ actions.
“There’s no obvious position of surrender until you are in custody,” the ex-Ranger said. “Anything’s possible.”
If you punched or “stab stepped” somebody’s head, it would be a beating, but when Ryser did it, it was “pain compliance.” It certainly looked painful.
Former Texas Ranger Chief Maurice Cook, the second witness called by the defense in Friday’s trial, reiterated the sentiments of his fellow Ranger on the stand.
“(Ryser) did act as a reasonable officer based on the totalitary of circumstances,” Cook said, calling Holley “an active resistor.”
Cook, who teaches law enforcement at Alvin Community College, said Ryser’s strikes to Holley’s head were permissible and identified them as “pain compliance.”
Prosecutor Tommy LaFon showed the arrest video to Malone on the stand and asked whether there was an attempt to arrest Holley before he was struck.
“The first contact that happens with Mr. Holley is several officers putting feet on him,” LaFon said referring to the kicks and knee strikes in the video. “Have you ever seen a police officer handcuff someone with their feet?”
Obviously, LaFon doesn’t understand the language of cops, at least when it comes to Chad Holley. One can’t handcuff someone who hasn’t surrendered, and since there is “no obvious position of surrender,” and anything can happen, the police were left with no choice but to execute cop moves with cool names upon his head and body.
But this all happened three years ago, so you probably don’t recall that Chad Holley was then a 15-year-old being chased for a burglary. He was subsequently convicted of it in juvenile court and sentenced to probation. He had already received the requisite whoopin’. And this is the video of his arrest.
Or maybe they just make that stuff up right there on the stand, or perhaps they brainstorm it in the lawyer’s office, coming up with cool sounding words to describe when a police boot meets a perp’s face.
But if there is no position of “obvious surrender” — because it surely looks as if Chad Holley had obviously surrendered before he started attacking the cops’ boots with his head and body — then there is no conceptual ledge where the opportunity for “pain compliance” stops and the perp is deemed in custody, safe enough to hand cuff and, well, stop painfully compliance-making, so that the First Rule of Policing is satisfied and the Third Rule has been fully vindicated.
The Third Rule, you ask? That’s the one where the cops give the perp a good tune-up to remind him who’s boss and that making them run, before they’ve fully digested the earlier eaten donuts, and otherwise engage in physical activity, is unappreciated. The tape has no audio, but if it did, my guess is you would hear someone screaming, “take that for the Boston cream, take that for the jelly.”
And yet, the lexicon isn’t solely dedicated to recreating the beating of Chad Holley so that the defendant, Drew Ryser, doesn’t look like a cowardly thug beating a downed kid for kicks and to pretend he’s a tough, Texan hombre cop.
There is also the testimony of Former Texas Ranger Maurice Cooks who explains that you have to look at the “totalitary of the circumstances.” I bet he learned that from a federal court decision, where judges have long appreciated that these magic legal words mean that if you can find anything, any excuse whatsoever by broadening out one’s perspective to include utterly irrelevant, totally unrelated, completely disconnected, claims, then you can reach any outcome you want. It helps to know the lingo, which makes videos like the one of Chad Holley getting