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Houston Astros pitcher Brandon Backe was among 10 people arrested during an incident involving Galveston police at a hotel bar.

By Harvey Rice
Houston Chronicle

GALVESTON - Police have begun an internal investigation of a weekend confrontation between police and members of a wedding party that led to the arrest of Astros pitcher Brandon Backe.
Witnesses said Monday that police needlessly beat, Tasered and pepper-sprayed wedding guests who were trying to comply with police commands during an incident in which officers arrested 10 people, including Backe, at an outdoor bar at the San Luis Hotel on Seawall Boulevard.
Daniel Cole O'Balle, 19, was injured during the incident and flown by helicopter to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. Backe was charged with three counts of assault on a public servant and two counts of retaliation. He was released on $115,000 bond.
Galveston police spokesman Cpt. Walter Braun said the department's office of professional conduct was conducting an internal investigation, although no formal complaints of officer misconduct had been received. "This administration is taking a proactive step," Braun said.
Police said a melee ensued after an officer approached O'Balle about entering the pool area with an open container of alcohol.
Witnesses' versions of the Saturday night confrontation differ widely from the description in the police report. Five witnesses told the Houston Chronicle they saw no one, including Backe, resist police.
They also said that there was no fight in the bar as described by police.
Witnesses described dozens of police storming a shocked and unresisting wedding party, shouting profanity and roughly shoving men and women.
Michael McMillan, 36, of Houston, said he and Backe walked up to see what the commotion was about and saw O'Balle on the ground bleeding, being shocked with a Taser and handcuffed. Police began shouting at them to back up and they complied, he said.
After they backed up as far as they could, McMillan said, officers continued shouting, "and Brandon Backe said, 'Sir, be cool, we're backed up as far as we can go.' "
As soon as Backe spoke, several officers wrestled him to the ground, punching him as he went down, McMillan said.
"A police officer kicks him right in the face," he said.
Backe never used profanity, insults or resisted the officers, McMillan said.
McMillan said he moved away and began walking down the hill with his wife when an officer ran at him and struck him with an elbow, knocking him to the ground. Several officers piled on and one put a foot in his back, he said.
He was put in a police car with Backe, he said. When they complained about their handcuffs being painfully tight, officers increased the pain by cornering at high speeds and forcing them to slide along the seat, he said. He said officers laughed as they cried out in pain.
Describing the experience, McMillan said, "You will feel the most helpless, humiliated, betrayed, that you will ever feel."
Chris Cornwell, 26, of Galveston, said police threw him to the ground when he asked them to stop shoving his pregnant wife. An officer put his foot on Cornwell's head until he stopped talking, he said.
Matt Goodson, 26, of Galveston, said he was taken down next to Cornwell. One of the officers picked up his head and pepper-sprayed him in the face for no reason, he said.

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