A video that helped a federal jury convict a Boynton Beach police officer in a police brutality case may also get the same officer a new trial.
In November, Officer Michael Brown was convicted of excessive force and use of a firearm during a violent crime. Brown was charged (along with three other Boynton Beach police officers) after helicopter video of a high-speed car chase in 2014 was turned over to the FBI. The video shows officers allegedly kicking and punching the suspects who started the high-speed chase.
Now, Brown’s defense attorney, Bruch Reinhart, says the same helicopter video used to convict Brown could also get him a new trial.
In recent court filings, Reinhart argues that “enhancing” the helicopter video shows Brown re-holstered his gun before grabbing one of the suspects out of the car.
If Brown re-holstered his gun, his defense attorney says Brown should have never even been charged with using a firearm during a violent crime, much less convicted of it. (Brown is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for the firearm charge, and up to ten years in prison for the excessive force charge.)
Contact 5 obtained a copy of the ‘enhanced’ video and still frames. The video shows, after Brown opens the car’s passenger side door, he draws his hand quickly to his hip. This is where defense says Brown re-holstered his gun.
However, when Brown’s hand reappears, it is still black in color, and he appears to be holding a weapon.
Reinhart told Contact 5 Investigator Merris Badcock that Brown’s hand is still black in color because he was wearing black gloves during the incident. (Further inspection of the video reveals many officers were wearing black gloves during the incident.)
Federal prosecutors have said in court and in filings that they disagree with Reinhart’s interpretation of the video.
“We’ve watched the enhanced video, and we don’t think it shows [Brown] re-holstering his gun,” federal prosecutor Susan Osborne said in court on Wednesday during a motion hearing. Osborne argued the video was the same as the one presented to the jury, only magnified.
U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg will have to decide whether or not to allow the video to be considered when Brown and his attorney formally argue for a new trial. (So far only paper filings to begin the process of arguing for a new trial have been submitted to the court.)
Brown’s supervisor at the time of the incident, Sgt. Philip Antico was also convicted by a federal jury of obstruction of justice involving the same police brutality incident. Recently, one of the juror’s in Antico’s case told the court she was bullied into a guilty verdict by other jurors and regrets her decision.
Both the enhanced video and the juror’s admission have complicated the appeals process. Brown, Antico and federal prosecutors are expected back in court on Feb. 13.
Follow Contact 5 Investigator Merris Badcock on Twitter for updates on this story.