Galveston Police Brutalize Wedding Party; Get Away With It

Normally, I would never post about a story this old. But I checked our sister websites and none of us wrote about it at the time. I don’t remember seeing anything about it when it happened (which seems impossible!). For some reason, ran the story over the weekend. Perhaps this April 1, 2014 story in the Houston Chronicle made it worth revisiting. Now, over five years later, the victims are still trying to get some justice.

The story is simple: 1— Couple gets married with friends present to celebrate. 2— Security guard claims to see a minor outside the celebration with an open container of alcohols. 3— Cops beat up and permanently injure guests. 4— Cops get away with it while pro Astros pitcher career ends from injuries related to cop-inflicted beatdown.

The over thirty cops who showed up claim they were dealing with a “riot.” The guests say otherwise. Weirdly, none of them even officially reported using force!

No “use of force” forms were filed at all, despite a gaping head wound, hair pulled out, a broken nose, pepper spray on numerous individuals, and obvious signs of bruising and beating on the arrested wedding guests.

The Houston Chronicle story featured Backe’s testimony:

The former pitcher lost his composure in a federal courtroom Tuesday while describing how he can no longer use his right arm for simple tasks like tucking in his shirt or fastening a seat belt.


On the stand, Backe’s demeanor changed when he described the night he was beaten. He had just purchased a beer when “I heard a frantic voice saying, ‘They got Cole,’ ” Backe recalled, referring to Cole O’Balle, brother of the bride. “I could tell by the tone of the voice that something wasn’t right.”

Backe said he ran to the sound and encountered O’Balle face down on the ground and surrounded by police, his face bloody and the prongs from a stun gun stuck in his back. O’Balle was flown by helicopter to a Houston hospital.

Backe said officer Nicholas McDermott “screamed, ‘back the f— up.” Backe said he could back up no farther and told the officer, “Chill out, we can’t back up. You’ve got enough room.” At that point several officers attacked him, he said, striking him as he fell to the ground and continuing to beat him until his face was bloody. One kicked him in the face, he said.

When he fell, his shoulder struck a concrete curb that separated the sidewalk from a garden. He said officers kept beating him while he was down. “I hit the ground hard and they just got on top of me,” he said. Backe contends that this is when he his shoulder was so badly damaged it ended his career.

At first Backe was more concerned about his broken nose and damage to his skull. He thought a persistent pain in his arm would eventually go away, but finally the pain became too great and he underwent surgery.

A large piece of bone that Backe keeps in a jar was removed from his shoulder and seven more pieces were removed in a subsequent operation. He testified that only a blow to the shoulder like the one he suffered at the H2O bar could have caused such an injury.

According to, the cops showed up because Daniel Cole O’Ball, brother of the bride, was nineteen years old and was reported for having an alcoholic beverage. He was beaten by police with batons.  Here is what his head looked like later:

cole head

Joe Belluomini, a wedding guest, says he tried to diffuse the situation. His wife saw an “officer of the law,” as we euphemistically refer to such people, grab him by the throat.

Shannon Belluomini also saw the bleeding gash in Cole’s head from the baton strikes and moved to try to intercede.

“That’s when they grabbed hold of me and threw me backwards and basically encased me with mace.  It felt like acid being poured over my face and my eyes and my chest.”

The father of the bride came out and, seeing his son’s bleeding head, asked what was going on. He was tasered and pepper sprayed, then arrested.

Witnesses said the officers swarmed into the bar swearing at patrons and beating, pepper spraying, and tasering people without provocation.

Police claim these witnesses are “exaggerating.” And that the force was necessary. Since Cole had to be rushed by helicopter to the hospital for emergency surgery, the charges don’t seem that exaggerated.

The police department punished the officers for failing to file their documents correctly. They had no problem with the policemen’s use of force.

Someday a majority in some city is going to wise up and we will see a petition to abolish their police department altogether. That will be a great day for civilization.