From [HERE] and [MORE] Boynton Beach police officer Michael Brown and former officers Justin Harris, and Ronald Ryan sat in the courtroom with their individual defense attorneys today as federal prosecutors presented their opening statements.
Brown, Harris and Ryan are accused of assaulting one of Byron Harris’ passengers, 25-year-old Jeffrey Braswell — charged with depriving him of his rights and falsifying police records. Brown is accused of repeatedly using a police-issued revolver when he punched Braswell.
Antico, their supervisor, 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.
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.
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. Braswell is Black, all the officers are white.
Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Katz took the stand for hours to testify on his officers use of force and the reports they wrote to document them.
Katz testified that the report written by officer Michael Brown following the incident was inconsistent with the heat signature video provided to Boynton Beach Police.
Katz told the jury when he first saw the video it was concerning and there were enough inconsistencies that he felt the need to make two referrals, one to the state, another to the FBI.
He also testified that he didn’t want the officers to know the video existed. He told the jury he didn’t want the video to be a means for them to write their reports.
The lawyer for Michael Brown told the jury, his client never lied on any report and he admitted to punching and kicking Braswell in a use of force report.
That use of force report was brought up in court and Chief Katz said it wasn’t specific enough.
He also testified that browns narrative in the police report didn’t describe a situation where the type of force used was needed.
The trial of the three officers is expected to run into next week.
The officers face maximums of between 30 and 40 years in prison, if convicted as charged.
Harris, then 26, of Lake Worth, was the driver of the Mitsubishi in the chase. In a plea deal earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and eluding officers, and agreed to serve a three-and-a-half-year sentence, with credit for time served.