Juror claims she was bullied into convicting Boynton police sergeant

A juror who voted to convict a Boynton Beach police officer of a charge of obstruction of justice now says she was bullied into finding Sgt. Philip Antico guilty and regrets her decision.

In an affidavit filed late Friday in federal court, juror Devin Andersen Treadway says she buckled to pressure from other jurors after a roughly weeklong trial in November.

“After the trial I just couldn’t clear my conscious (sic),” Andersen wrote U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg. “The other jurors all used their prior misconceptions about police officers and their feeling of someone needing to be help (sic) accountable, where there wasn’t one bit of evidence showing he was guilty; which was our job.”

Treadway said another juror she met after the verdict expressed similar misgivings. “Unfortunately, I cannot remember everyone’s name, but I know there are a handful of jurors that feel there was bullying going on and other jurors that shouldn’t have been on this case,” she wrote.

Attorney Gregg Lerman, who represents Antico, said he will ask Rosenberg to interview Treadway before the officer is sentenced on Feb. 5.

“The judge needs to speak with the juror to find out what happened in the jury room,” he said. “Bullying is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. But what does it mean in this context?”

The issue is likely to come up Wednesday when Boynton Officer Michael Brown, who was convicted by a separate jury of more serious charges in connection with the same 2014 incident, asks Rosenberg to throw out the verdict in his case.

Both Antico and Brown faced charges in connection with the beating of Jeffrey Braswell, of Lake Worth, who was an unarmed passenger in a car that fled police. The beating was captured on videotape.

Brown, 48, faces a mandatory five-year prison term after being convicted of using a firearm during a crime of violence. The veteran officer, who was named Boynton’s Officer of the Year in 2013, was also convicted of deprivation of rights under color of law. Two other officers who were tried with him were acquitted.

The car’s driver, Byron Harris, fled when another Boynton police officer tried to pull him over for a routine traffic stop. Before getting on Interstate 95, Harris clipped an officer, who was then critically injured when he was hit by the officer who was pursuing the vehicle.

Reaching speeds of more than 100 mph, nine officers joined in the chase on Interstate 95. It ended in a neighborhood in Lake Worth after Brown hit the car, disabling it. The video, captured by a Palm Beach County sheriff’s helicopter hovering overhead, showed Brown and other officers hitting and punching Braswell, Harris and Ashley Hill, who was also in the car.

Antico, who was the only supervisor on duty when the late-night chase erupted, wasn’t involved in the chase. He was convicted of lying to FBI agents many days later after the sheriff’s helicopter pilot voiced concern about what he had witnessed and the FBI was brought in to investigate.

After watching the video, Antico helped the officers craft their reports in an effort to ameliorate their actions, prosecutors claimed. While convicted of obstruction of justice, he was acquitted of two counts of falsifying reports.

Antico, who like Brown would lose his law enforcement certification if his conviction stands, faces a possible three-year prison sentence, but Lerman argues that Antico deserves probation.

Lerman already lost a battle to persuade Rosenberg to throw out Antico’s conviction. In that motion, Lerman blasted an instruction the judge read jurors when they reported they had reached a verdict on two counts but were hopelessly deadlocked on the third charge.

Ordering them to try to reach a verdict, Rosenberg told jurors that the “trial has been expensive in time, effort, money and emotional strain on both the defense and the prosecution.” She also told jurors that if they failed to reach a verdict, the case would be retried.

Lerman now says Treadway’s claims may bolster his effort to have the verdict tossed.

In her letter, Treadway said the chance Antico could be tried again weighed heavily on her. “Those who were for Guilty, assured those that were for Not Guilty that he was lucky that we found him Not Guilty for two counts and that if someone else tries him, then they could find him Guilty on all three counts,” she wrote.

Lerman said Treadway’s claims could help him convince Rosenberg that the instructions were “unconstitutionally coercive.” In previously rejecting Lerman’s motion, Rosenberg said her jury instructions were approved by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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