breaking news

Watch live: PBC parents, students talk to the school board about safety

Judge tosses charge that would have put Boynton cop away for 5 years


Boynton Beach Police Officer Michael Brown no longer faces a mandatory five-year prison term in connection with the 2014 beating of an unarmed passenger of a car that led cops on a high-speed chase.

In a 17-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Robin Rosenberg threw out the most serious of two charges the 48-year-old veteran officer faced. She ruled that federal prosecutors had not proven Brown committed a crime of violence in connection with the beating of 19-year-old Jeffrey Braswell that was captured on videotape. Therefore, she ruled, the conviction couldn’t stand.

While handing Brown a huge victory, Rosenberg rejected his request to toss out his conviction on a charge of deprivation of civil rights. While the charge carries a maximum 10-year prison term, under federal sentencing guidelines, Brown would be sentenced to “at least one year but not more than three years” in prison, his attorney Bruce Reinhart said in court papers.

Rosenberg’s decision last week came a day after prosecutors and Reinhart debated a complex and largely unsettled area of law. Courts have ruled that there are times when causing bodily harm isn’t a crime of violence. Because questions swirl around the issue and Brown’s actions weren’t properly decided by the jury, his conviction must be thrown out, she wrote.

“Any lack of clarity as to when a defendant’s conviction qualifies as a crime of violence must be resolved in the defendant’s favor,” Rosenberg wrote, quoting appellate court decisions.

Brown and Sgt. Philip Antico, who was convicted of obstruction of justice by a separate jury, are to be sentenced next month in connection with the beating that rocked the police department.

Before she metes out their punishment, Rosenberg must decide whether Antico deserves a new trial because a juror claims she was bullied by other panelists into voting to convict Antico for lying to FBI agents, who were investigating the beating. Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Osborne counters that juror Devin Andersen Treadway’s allegations are insufficient to warrant a new trial.

Antico was the only supervisor on duty when nine officers chased a car that clipped a Boynton cop and then fled on Interstate 95. A video, captured by a Palm Beach County sheriff’s helicopter, showed officers punching and kicking Braswell, the car’s driver and another occupant. Two other officers were acquitted of wrongdoing.

The officers’ initial reports didn’t describe the beating. Prosecutors claimed Antico helped officers revise their reports only after learning of the video. In a meeting with FBI agents, Antico denied any changes were made. He faces a possible three-year sentence but his attorney, Gregg Lerman, is pushing for probation.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

‘You can make your days count’ — Billy Graham’s message in WPB address
‘You can make your days count’ — Billy Graham’s message in WPB address

Evangelist Billy Graham, who died Wednesday at 99, spoke of life’s brevity when he addressed then-Palm Beach Atlantic College’s graduates in West Palm Beach in 1997. “Not one of us at any age has a clue as to how long we will live. You can’t count your days. But you can make your days count,” Graham, then 78, said. &ldquo...
Boynton Beach has timetable for final downtown pitch
Boynton Beach has timetable for final downtown pitch

Boynton Beach’s 16-acre Town Square redevelopment plan received another nod of approval from city commissioners, but not from all. Commissioner Mack McCray voted against the project because he doesn’t know how the city will pay for it and Commissioner Joe Casello is still not happy with the location of the new police station at High Ridge...
Fair housing group sues owner of Boynton complex for discrimination
Fair housing group sues owner of Boynton complex for discrimination

The owner of a small apartment complex in Boynton Beach has been sued by a fair housing group, claiming he refuses to rent to families. In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, the Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches accuses Alan Beigel, owner of BB Apartments on Southeast Third Avenue, of violating the Federal Housing...
Broward school shooting: Walkouts, demonstrations dot South Florida
Broward school shooting: Walkouts, demonstrations dot South Florida

Throughout Palm Beach, Broward, Martin and St. Lucie counties, students took to social media and showed the many ways they were remembering those killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on its one-week anniversary. On Wednesday at 10:17 a.m. -- a full week to the minute of the shooting which took 17 lives in Parkland -- there was...
UPDATE: More than 1,000 students march on Boca Raton City Hall
UPDATE: More than 1,000 students march on Boca Raton City Hall

At least 1,000 students from Boca Raton High School, Boca Raton Middle School, Omni Middle School, Olympic Heights and West Boca Raton High School converged at Boca Raton City Hall to urge for gun control. Nicole Auchinleck, a 17-year-old at Boca Raton High, said she helped coordinate the massive rally using the social media app Snapchat.  &ldquo...
More Stories