Public Servants & Public Rulers at the Same Time? From [CBS12] A federal jury returned mixed verdicts Thursday evening, for three white Boynton Beach police officers, who were charged with an excessive beating of an unarmed restrained Black man and cover-up.
Officer Michael Brown showed no emotion as the verdicts were read. Jurors found Brown guilty of depriving the rights of a suspect in a beating, and using a firearm in a crime of violence. The 12-member panel acquitted Brown of falsifying records.
The jury completely absolved former officers Justin Harris and Ronald Ryan, finding both not guilty of a charge connected to the beating, and another related to the paperwork.
The case stemmed from Sheriff’s helicopter video of a pursuit by Boynton police. White Officers claimed they "feared" the car they chased had hit and killed a fellow officer. Fortunately the officer survived.
Police also claimed to see someone throwing what appeared to be drugs from the vehicle - never found after an exhaustive search will police dogs and all the works.
But those factors, said prosecutors, did not justify the beating of the car’s front passenger, Jeffrey Braswell, while seat-belted, with hands up, and again on the ground in cuffs.
Prosecutors told the jury the trio was unaware that a PBSO helicopter was flying overhead and recording after they forced a car off the road the morning of August 20, 2014. The Government claimed all the cops lied in their police reports because they were unaware they were being videotaped by a helicopter hovering above.
Prosecutors said the video showed the officers using excessive force to beat Jeffrey Braswell, and said there is evidence that all 3 officers lied on their reports as to what happened during the incident.
Brown was the only officer they could prove who used a gun to strike Braswell - as the video is grainy and unclear.
Officer Brown declined comment as he left court Thursday night. He’s looking at up to 15 years in prison.
Ryan, who was acquitted, said he’s glad to get his life back, but feels for his former brother officer, Brown.
“Mike Brown is one of the best police officers I’ve ever worked for,” said Ryan. “Heart of gold. He served his community honorably.”
Judge Robin Rosenberg allowed Officer Brown to remain free on bond until his sentencing. Brown’s attorney, Bruce Reinhart, told the judge his client suddenly lost his wife a year ago, and now is the sole parent of an eight-year old child.
There’s no sentencing date yet for Officer Brown.
Also on Thursday, a jury was seated for the trial of the officers’ supervisor, Sgt. Philip Antico. He’s accused of the alleged cover-up. He was their supervisor and he is accused of arranging for the officers to falsify reports about the beating and lying about it to the FBI, according to federal documents. That is, he arranged for three officers to rewrite their police reports to justify the use of force, authorities allege Antico also faces an obstruction of justice charge. [MORE]
In court, Harris clearly shed tears after the verdicts were announced. Harris’ attorney.
“I can imagine it’s relief,” said Harris’ attorney, Jonathan Wasserman. “And I can imagine some of it is sorrow for one of his brother police officers.”
After the verdicts, Chief Jeffrey Katz released a statement saying, “The men and women of the Boynton Beach Police Department remain committed to providing legally and ethically sound policing… we will accept nothing less from those entrusted with this responsibility.”