The videotaped police beating of Chad Holley, a teenage burglary suspect, has led to changes in the City of Houston and could soon shakeup police penalties across the state.
State Representative Borris Miles has introduced a bill that enhances the penalty for official oppression for law enforcement officers from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the severity of injuries to a victim.
On Wednesday, Rep. Miles laid out House Bill 1471 in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. He released a statement to the media.
“I was shocked when the rogue police officers who beat Chad Holley were only charged with a misdemeanor,” said Rep. Miles. “HB 1471 gives prosecutors a valuable tool they need to go after police officers who abuse their position.”
Dr. D.Z. Cofield, president of the Houston NAACP, Dean James Douglas from Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Professor Dwight Watson from Texas State University, and Kevin Petroff of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office traveled to Austin to testify on behalf of the bill.
According to a statement released by the legislator’s office, currently, the penalty for official oppression is a Class A misdemeanor. HB 1471 enhances the penalty for official oppression to a third degree felony if a law enforcement officer causes bodily injury and to a second degree felony if the public servant causes a serious bodily injury.
”As a former law enforcement officer, I understand the pressure and high emotions that can occur on the job and believe the vast majority of Houston police officers are professionals,” said Rep. Miles. “However, when rogue cops get out of control and abuse the civil rights of a teenage boy, we must make sure that the punishment fits the crime and toughening the penalty for official oppression will do just that.”
HB 1471 is part of a package of bills that Rep. Miles has filed in response to the Chad Holley beating last year. Rep. Miles also filed HB 3357 which would create a Houston Citizens Police Review Board. The review board will have the power to investigate acts of police misconduct and recommend action throughout the state. Finally, Rep. Miles authored HB 1472 that will make sure records of all complaints against individual police officers are retained so that in an incident like this one, citizens can know the complete history of complaints lodged by citizens against a particular officer.