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Trial date set for Boynton Beach officers charged with falsifying records, obstructing justice

Posted at 11:33 AM, Jun 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-29 10:41:05-04

"There will be a  trial," were the adamant words from the lawyer representing Boynton Beach Police Officer Michael Brown after a court hearing Wednesday.

Brown appeared in federal court along with Sgt. Philip Antico, and former Boynton Beach Officer Justin Harris.  Former officer Ronald Ryan was not present.

The men attended a hearing related to federal charges stemming from their roles in the 2014 arrest of Byron Harris.

Harris led police on a chase on Aug. 20, 2014. According to an arrest report at the time, Harris refused to stop, and at some point, allegedly hit and injured a police officer.

A video shows officers striking, kicking and using a stun gun on Harris.

The city of Boynton Beach settled an excessive force lawsuit with Harris in November, agreeing to pay him $600,000.

Harris pleaded guilty in March to aggravated assault and fleeing or attempting to elude and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Harris had two passengers in the car. Jeffrey Braswell was one of them.

A federal indictment accuses Officers Brown, Harris and Ryan, of kicking, striking and tasing Braswell. They are charged with deprivation of civil rights. They also face charges of falsification of records, for making false statements in their report.

The FBI says Sergeant Antico allowed the officers to make changes to their reports after reviewing video that captured the arrest. The changes to the report were allegedly allowed so officers could make their actions appear justifiable.

Antico is also charged with lying to the FBI about allowing those changes. Contact 5 questioned Officer Michael Brown about the records and if he had anything to say to the people he served. He declined to comment.

A tentative trial date has been set for mid-September. Prosecutors say there are over 5,000 pages of evidence and 40 hours of interviews with the FBI, including interviews with other Boynton Beach officers who were not involved.