Elected officials call for change in jury selection
Updated On: May 25 2012 05:16:35 PM CDT
Some elected officials have called for change after a former Houston police officer was found not guilty of beating a teenage burglary suspect.
Andrew Blomberg was found not guilty of misdemeanor official oppression on Wednesday. Blomberg was fired along with three other officers after they were caught on videotape kicking and stomping 15-year-old burglary suspect Chad Holley in March 2010.
Community activists have said that they were outraged that an all-white jury heard the case.
"Unbelievable. Unbelievable. We never had a chance with an all-white jury. With an all-white jury, this case was gone from the very beginning. This is a disgrace. What happened was a damn shame -- what happened in that courtroom today. It was an absolute disgrace. This is horrible. I can only imagine how Chad and his mother are feeling right now. That says to all of us that the life of a black man in Houston, Texas, Harris County, don't mean a damn thing, "Quanell X said moments after the verdict was announced."I think the community has the right to voice their displeasure however they see fit, and whatever the community response is, I believe it's appropriate."
In the Blomberg case, the final panel of 26 prospective jurors included two African Americans. One of them was employed by the District Attorney's Office and the other had an arrest record.
Three more former officers, Drew Ryser, Phillip Bryan and Raad Hassan will be tried on similar charges.
On Friday, several elected and community leaders gathered to demand that there not be all-white juries in the future.
"A perception of one-race jurors giving one-race justice, and one-race justice is an injustice," U.S. Rep. Al Green said.
Green said he has contacted the U.S. Department of Justice to ask for a review of Holley's arrest and the videotaped beating. He also wants to know why more minorities were not selected as part of the jury pool.
Attorneys for at least two of the former officers awaiting trial have asked for a change of venue, fearful that media attention and public protests will taint potential jurors.
The elected officials and community activists who gathered Friday said they want the trials to remain in Harris County.
The judge in the cases is considering the request and has not said when he will make a decision.