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KPRC reports alleged RUPD beating

By Molly Chiu & Rachel Marcus     12/3/13 6:00pm

Local news station KPRC aired a story on Tuesday, Nov. 26 entitled "Local 2 investigates controversial arrest involving Rice University police" which featured a man who claimed "police went too far" during his arrest. The report showed a police car dashboard video of two RUPD officers striking a man on the legs with batons while a third officer stood nearby.

The man, whose name is Ivan Joe Waller, claims Rice University Police Department officers unnecessarily beat him during the arrest. In the video, Waller can be heard calling out "Why y'all beating me?"

Rice released an official statement in response to the KPRC report discussing details of the arrest. Rice has since declined to comment further. 



According to the original statement, the arrest occurred Aug. 10 at approximately 11 p.m. after the suspect was caught with a stolen bike outfitted with a GPS tracking device near the intersection of Montclair Drive and Holcombe Boulevard. Officers then tried to arrest the suspect, but after he repeatedly resisted handcuffs, they struck him in the legs with batons.

Waller has a criminal history of assault and burglary, according to the KPRC report. Following his arrest, he was taken to the Harris County Jail, and he pled guilty to stealing the bike, according the Rice official statement. KPRC reported Waller has since filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

According to Rice's statement, RUPD Chief Johnny Whitehead conducted an internal review of the incident. The review determined that an appropriate amount of force had been used.

According to KPRC, the report shows only a portion of the original video because KPRC could not obtain the entire video. KPRC did not disclose how it had gained access to the video. RUPD could not be reached for comment.

KPRC aired a follow-up story Wednesday, Nov. 27 about Rice's refusal to release the entire video, but the report did not contain any additional information specific to the incident.

Rice has since updated its official statement concerning KPRC's report, saying that they will release the full dashboard video "after the investigation by the district attorney's office has been completed and any other legal matters resolved."
 
The most-recent full statement can be seen below. 
 
"Around 11 p.m. on the night of Aug. 10, 2013, the Rice University Police Department was alerted that a bike equipped with a GPS device had been stolen from campus. Rice police officers caught up with the bike and suspect at Montclair Drive and Holcombe Boulevard.
 
The officers approached the suspect and ordered him off the bike and onto the ground so that they could handcuff him, search for weapons and make the arrest. When the suspect failed to comply with verbal commands, the officers followed standard police protocol:  They ordered him to the ground and attempted to handcuff him.  The officers placed a handcuff on the suspect's left wrist and ordered him to show his right arm, which he had pinned under himself.  The suspected refused to comply and despite the officers' repeated orders to allow himself to be handcuffed, he continued to resist arrest.
 
The officers then used pressure point control techniques in an effort to subdue the suspect. After repeated attempts to gain control with verbal commands and physical control techniques were unsuccessful, two officers deployed their batons and struck the suspect's legs, which is standard protocol to subdue an aggressive suspect without causing serious bodily harm.
 
Officers were finally able to gain control of the suspect and finish handcuffing him.  At that point, the officers stopped the use of force, although the suspect then resisted being placed in the police vehicle.  At no point did the officers draw their weapons.  The suspect, who has a previous criminal record, was transported to Harris County Jail, where he pled guilty to the bike theft.
 
Rice University Police Chief Johnny Whitehead conducted an internal review, which is standard policy when use of force is involved, and the department is continuing to review its techniques for dealing with suspects who resist arrest and will offer additional training and tools to its officers.  
 
Rice University police are charged with protecting the campus and its students and employees, and are fully trained and commissioned police officers.
 
Rice University has received several requests to release a videotape of the arrest taken at the scene. Rice immediately provided the video to the Harris County District Attorney's office when it was requested for an investigation. Although Rice is a private institution and not required by law to make the video public, it will do so after the investigation by the district attorney's office has been completed and any other legal matters resolved."


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