As FBI Investigates, Boynton Beach Police Show Helicopter Video of Officers Beating Man
The footage was recorded by a PBSO helicopter.
Boynton Beach PD/YouTube
The Boynton Beach Police Department is under an FBI investigation for brutally beating a suspect who had led them on a high-speed chase on August 20, 2014. And in an effort to give "some context to the public," the BBPD showed helicopter footage captured by PBSO that night.
Byron Harris, 26 at the time, fled a traffic stop and lead police on a chase southbound on I-95 and then into a residential neighborhood off Okeechobee Boulevard. He is also accused of intentionally hitting an officer with his car during the chase.
That officer -- Jeff Williams -- was then run over by a cop car as well. He survived and is recovering.
Eventually, Harris, with two female passengers in the car, stopped. Police immediately surrounded his vehicle and apprehended him. Among the many charges against him was "resisting arrest without violence," but Harris was still beaten by several officers. In the video, Harris is surrounded by cops who appear to be beating him.
The helicopter footage begins at 5:53:
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The BBPD officers don't deny kicking and punching Harris, including several shots to the head. But they say it wasn't all done on purpose. According to the Palm Beach Post, Officer Matthew Madeiros says he tried to kick Harris' arm -- but missed and accidentally kicked Harris' head. Twice.
Madeiros also said it wasn't his fault one of the female passengers was slapped. An officer's actual written explanation for that was "Her face struck my hand."
A mug shot of Harris shows the results of the beating, and it's not pretty.
Harris was hit with four charges: aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, fleeing and eluding police, violation of probation, and resisting arrest without violence. But those charges were dropped.
Although Harris was severely beaten during his arrest, BBPD's Katz reiterated that in addition to putting lives at risk on the road by causing a chase, Harris caused an officer to get severely hurt too.
"Jeff's spine was broken in two places and had to be fused back together," said Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Katz. "He lost a piece of one of his ears, his face was permanently disfigured, and during his stay in Delray Trauma, caring medical personnel spent over two hours digging pieces of asphalt from his face and body."
Katz didn't specify which injuries to Williams were caused by Harris or the police car that ran over him.
The FBI investigation is ongoing, and Katz says he requested the agency's assistance to determine if the BBPD's use of force against Harris was appropriate.
The second part of BBPD's news conference can be seen below:
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