Enhanced video, juror regret complicates sentencing of Boynton cops

Facing a mandatory five-year prison sentence on a charge of using a firearm during a crime of violence, Boynton Beach police officer Michael Brown is trying to win a new trial by arguing that an enhanced video shows he wasn’t holding his gun when he punched a passenger in a car that led nine cops on a chase on Interstate 95.

Brown’s claim, disputed by federal prosecutors on Wednesday, is the latest wrinkle U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg will have to iron out as she tries to sort out verdicts by separate juries and decide how — and whether — to punish Brown and Sgt. Philip Antico in connection with the 2014 beating that was captured on videotape.

Brown’s contention that he holstered his gun before hitting passenger Jeffrey Braswell comes days after Antico’s attorney gave Rosenberg a letter from a juror who claims she was bullied into voting to convict the sergeant of lying to FBI agents.

“I believe I’m a very fair person, and I don’t want someone’s life to be ruined for something they didn’t do,” juror Devin Andersen Treadway told The Palm Beach Post on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old teacher said she tried to stand up to a male juror, who said she wanted to acquit the officer because “she was young and had a crush on Antico.” But, she said, as deliberations continued into a second day, her resolve faded.

“By the end of that day — by the end of the week — we were just so exhausted,” Treadway said.

But, she said, the November verdict weighed heavily on her. Jurors who pushed for a conviction were upset by the video that showed Brown and other officers kicking and hitting Braswell and two other occupants of the car, she said. Antico was the sergeant on duty that night but wasn’t on the scene. He was convicted of obstruction of justice for lying to FBI agents about the accuracy of the officer’s original reports, which were later changed.

“One, we weren’t there to judge the other officers,” Treadway said, ticking off the reasons she believed Antico’s conviction was unfair. “Two, he wasn’t there.”

Further, she said, the reports were changed to reflect that the officers had hit and kicked Braswell and the two others. Prosecutors claimed Antico ordered the changes only after learning about the video shot from a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office helicopter that joined the chase.

“For me there was no evidence he did anything wrong,” Treadway said. “He did his job.”

As with Brown’s claims, federal prosecutors Susan Osborne and Donald Tunnage are urging Rosenberg to reject Treadway’s assertions.

What Treadway describes is typical back and forth that punctuates most jury deliberations, they wrote. “They do not constitute clear, strong, substantial and incontrovertible evidence of the type of misconduct that would warrant a new trial,” Osborne wrote.

Likewise, she disputed claims Brown’s claims that a so-called “enhanced video” shows him holstering his gun. “We have watched the video over and over again,” she told Rosenberg. “He makes a quick motion toward his holster but it’s clear he still has a gun in his hand.”

Brown is also raising questions about the veracity of an unspecified government witness who testified against him. But, his attorney Bruce Reinhart said he wouldn’t name the witness or detail the allegations without further research.

Rosenberg quizzed prosecutors and Reinhart about various legal issues that would determine how long Brown, 48, a widowed father of a young son and two adult children, spends behind bars. Antico faces a potential three-year term although his attorney, Gregg Lerman, is pushing for probation. The next hearing in the cases will be Feb. 13.

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