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Defense focuses on Bratt's injuries

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Published:   |   Updated: March 7, 2013 at 04:24 PM
BROOKSVILLE -

The deputy on the witness stand looks through photos of Michael Bratt's body, close up shots of injuries on his face and legs and back.

Bratt's eyes are black and blue, nearly swollen shut.

Bratt is charged with multiple counts of battery on a law enforcement officer from a December 2009 incident that started when Deputy Steven George responded to noise complaint at Bratt's residence. For the past three days, jurors have heard testimony from Bratt's neighbors, a 911 operator and many of the responding law enforcement officers, fire rescue and EMS dispatched to Snow Hill Road that night.

Law enforcement officers have said under oath they needed to use force to take Bratt into custody, by "redirecting" him, sweeping him to the ground and administering "pain compliance" to handcuff him and calm him down to a point when they could transport him to the hospital.

Bratt's defense attorney Stephen Romine continued to question how Bratt sustained severe injuries that included a fractured orbital socket that caused Bratt's eyeball to sink down in his cheek.

Over the past two days of law enforcement testimonies, Romine has asked witnesses about the emotions that night, when on-duty deputies and their superiors heard a call for a deputy in distress. After hearing radio dispatches that George might have been shot or struggling for his gun, deputies turned on their lights and sirens and raced to the rural residence in northern Hernando County.  

Romine has made several comparisons to law enforcement "going into battle." On Thursday afternoon, he asked a testifying deputy if they were mad, or at least "pumped up."

Sure, the deputy said. "Something made us believe he was shot."

Romine asked if the deputy was responsible for the eye injury, asking if he held Bratt's head steady and buried his knee in his eye.

That happens in the movies, not in law enforcement, the deputy said.

Still set to testify is George, who got a broken nose in a fight with Bratt, and whom the defense has described as "frozen" in fear.  

The trial, originally expected to end by the end of the day Friday, is making arrangements to extend into Saturday if necessary.


wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday.com (352) 544-5283
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