Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey S. Katz addressed the media at 10 a.m. today in reference to the filing of a criminal complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for alleged improprieties by two current and two former Boynton Beach Police Officers during the August 2014 arrest of Byron Harris. Here are Chief Katz’s remarks in their entirety:
In August of 2014, members of our department arrested Byron Harris and two occupants of his vehicle following a high speed pursuit. During this pursuit, one of our officers was struck by a vehicle, believed to be operated by Mr. Harris. Pursuing officers – and in fact even Mr. Harris – believed that he struck and killed Officer Jeffrey Williams. Although Williams suffered life-threatening injuries, including a broken back, he has thankfully since recovered.
As has been widely and frequently reported in recent years, some aspects of this arrest were captured on FLIR video mounted aboard an overhead PBSO helicopter.
In February 2015, I held a press conference to discuss the release of this video and to announce that within 2 weeks of this incident, I requested outside assistance from the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office and the FBI to provide a sense of clarity with respect to what happened during this complex incident which ultimately culminated in several arrests.
I said at the time, and I mean it to this day, that I believe in our personnel. I believe in the work they do and I am grateful for the 700,000 police professionals throughout the country who, without regard for their own safety, place themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe. An overwhelming majority of the time, they get it right and we are better and safer for this…
Unfortunately, in this instance, federal authorities have reported back that their extensive 3-year investigation has lead to the filing of a criminal complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for alleged improprieties by two of our current members – Phillip Antico and Michael Brown – and two of our former employees, Ronald Ryan and Justin Harris. I have very limited information regarding the specific nature of these charges other than to say that they will be made available by the U.S. Attorney’s Office after this morning’s first appearance.
I realize that today’s announcement will inspire strong emotions for those of us within the department, those who love our community… or anyone who loves someone directly effected by any aspect of this incident – whether in 2014 or today.
Regardless of the specific details of this investigation, this incident will not define us… nor does this invalidate the enormous and meaningful contributions our officers make in this community every day. The overwhelming majority of our men and women have made tremendous strides these past few years to live the values of our organization and to serve the public honorably. I value, love, and respect each of them for the work they do.
Those named in this criminal complaint who are still employees of the City have been placed on administrative leave in accordance with Florida law. We will respect the due process rights of all accused and evaluate our administrative options once judicial proceedings have concluded.
While I had hoped finding of the investigation would have been different, I have tremendous respect for the difficult work done by our partners in the Justice Department. I would like to thank the tireless efforts of everyone who worked over these past three years to establish a recommendation in this case. I trust our legal system to come to an objective and just finding.