BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – Two current and two former Florida police officers pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges connected to the beating of a man captured after a high-speed car chase.
Boynton Beach officer Michael Brown and former officers Justin Harris and Ronald Ryan have been charged with the 2014 beating of Jeffrey Braswell. The trio and Sgt. Philip Antico are also charged with trying to cover it up. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman ordered each held on $250,000 bail.
Braswell was in a car driven by Byron Harris, who fled at 100 mph (160 kph) after running a stop sign. During the chase, officer Jeffrey Williams was seriously injured when struck by Harris and possibly by a pursuing police car.
A Palm Beach County Sheriff's helicopter captured video of officers kicking Harris, Braswell and another passenger. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rhee Osborne told Matthewman others may be charged.
Jonathan Wasserman, the attorney for Justin Harris, told reporters, "These charges are not worthy of being prosecuted." His client resigned from the department and Ryan was fired. Antico and Brown are on paid administrative leave.
Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Katz told a news conference Friday, "We will not let this incident of several years ago define us."
The city paid $600,000 last year to settle a lawsuit filed by Byron Harris, whose mug shot showed his face swollen from an apparent beating. He pleaded guilty in 2015 to aggravated assault and eluding police and sentenced to 3 ½ years. He remains in prison.
According to court documents, officers Harris, Brown and Ryan kicked and hit Braswell numerous times and shocked him with a Taser without cause. The three and Antico then lied in their reports when they omitted facts about the beating, prosecutors charge. They say Antico also lied to FBI agents investigating the case.
This story has been corrected to show that the helicopter video came from the sheriff, not a TV station.