HOUSTON — With the possibility of a hung jury looming large, a federal judge on Thursday urged lawyers in the civil trial of Galveston police officers accused of beating members of a 2008 wedding party on the island to reach a settlement.
Jurors ended a third day of deliberations at Houston’s federal courthouse without delivering a verdict and will not meet again until Monday.
One member of the jury informed the court of an inability to attend deliberations from Tuesday through Friday of next week. U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison asked attorneys for the plaintiffs and the city of Galveston to discuss the possibility of continuing with 11 jurors, rather than delay deliberations.
Jurors appeared to be no closer to reaching a unanimous agreement Thursday. On Wednesday, a note from the jury asked for a clarification that indicated a potential deadlock on at least one of 40 questions addressing specific instances of officers allegedly using excessive force.
Faced with the possibility of a “very long deliberation,” if not a hung jury, Ellison asked attorneys for both sides to again consider settling the case.
Charlie Parker, who is representing the 12 plaintiffs suing the city of Galveston and 12 police officers, said he knew at least one of his clients would be unwilling to accept a settlement.
Former Houston Astros pitcher Brandon Backe, an island native who claims a police beating ended his Major League Baseball career, wants to see the trial through, Parker said.
Police said Backe was refusing to comply with officers’ orders and interfering with an arrest when he was arrested at the San Luis Resort’s H20 Bar on Oct. 5, 2008. Officers have denied that any excessive force was used against Backe or any of the plaintiffs now suing.
The former pitcher is seeking up to $15 million in damages from the city.