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Three years after incident Boynton Beach officers charged for use of force and falsifying records

Posted at 1:55 PM, Jun 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-09 19:46:20-04

Two Boynton Beach Police officers and two former officers appeared in front of a federal judge Friday.

Officer Michael Brown, Sergeant Philip Antico, former officers Justin Harris and Ronald Ryan all pleaded not guilty after they were read the charges, and all were released on bond.

The charges stem from their roles in the arrest of Byron Harris who led police on a chase on August 20, 2014.

Harris, who had two passengers in the car, refused to stop and at some point allegedly hit and injured a police officer.

Police followed Harris to Lake Worth, where the chase  ended and Harris and his two passengers, Ashley Hill and Jeffrey Braswell were taken into custody.

Parts of the chase and the subsequent arrest were captured on Palm Beach County Sheriff’s helicopter video.
The video shows officers striking, kicking and using a Taser on Braswell.

The indictment accuses Officers Brown, Harris and Ryan of kicking, striking and electroshocking passenger Jeffrey Braswell with a taser.

For that they were charged with deprivation of civil rights under color of law, a charge that carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,00 fine.

In addition they face charges of falsification of records, for making false statements in their reports, a charge that carries a maximum prison term of 20 years.

Sergeant Philip Antico who was not on the scene during the traffic stop, is facing charges of falsifying records and obstruction of justice.

Prosecuting attorneys say Antico was the supervisory sergeant and he allowed the officers to make changes to their reports after reviewing the video of the incident.

The changes to the report were allegedly allowed as to make the officers’ actions justifiable.

In addition to Sergeant Antico’s alleged role in falsifying the reports he was charged with one count of obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to FBI officials about the changes that had been made to the reports.

Obstruction of justice carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Greg Lerman, the attorney representing  Sergeant Antico spoke briefly with reporters following the court appearance, saying: “Sergeant Antico made sure the reports comported with the actual facts”

Judge Wiliam Matthewman said it was a sad day for law enforcement if the allegations in the indictment were true.

Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Katz addressed the allegations in a press conference this morning, “While this is a painful process this period underscores the progress that we’ve made as an agency over the years and we’re going to continue that trajectory”

Former officer Ronald Brown was fired by the Boynton Beach Police Department in March 2016.

He was employed by Cambridge security until he resigned two days ago.

Former officer Justin Harris resigned as a police officer in 2015, though he still works as a reserve officer in addition to being self-employed in a gym.

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

Byron Harris who led police on the chase did plead guilty to aggravated assault and fleeing or attempting to elude in March and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.