The civil trial of three Hernando County deputies accused of beating a Brooksville man so severely that his eyeball popped out of its socket and then attempting to cover it up continued in Tampa federal court Thursday, with both sides telling very different versions of the events that occurred.
- PREVIOUS STORY: Federal lawsuit trial begins for Hernando deputies who beat man
- Couple suing deputies for $10 million
- Trial coming down to who the jury believes
Marjorie Bratt, 47, and her husband, Michael, 54, are suing the deputies for using excessive force and for illegal entry.
Marjorie told the jury Thursday that she's now afraid of every Hernando deputy due to what happened to her and Michael at their Brooksville home on Dec. 26, 2009.
Couple tells their story
Hernando deputy Steven George reportedly jumped the fence around the home to investigate a noise complaint at about 1:30 a.m.
Marjorie said she and her husband were angry that George had trespassed on their property, and were arguing with him at the front door, which had been cracked open.
She then said Michael Bratt put his arm out in front of her and said, "go in the bedroom."
At that point, she said George claimed he witnessed domestic battery, pushed on the front door and tased Michael.
When her husband fell to the ground, Marjorie said the door flew open and George fell face first, breaking his nose. She then described the deputy radioing for help, stating he'd been "shot, stabbed and was down."
She then called him a liar, and said Michael actually handed the deputy his taser back, asking him not to tase him again.
George then reportedly attempted to do just that, but the taser failed to operate.
At that point, Marjorie said Deputy Kenneth Van Tassel arrived on the scene, took Michael to the front yard, and began beating on his face.
Then Deputy Louis Genovese, who weighed 360 pounds at the time, arrived at the scene and reportedly began punching Michael, as well.
Genovese is accused of driving his knee into Michael's face while he was on the ground, breaking his orbital bone and causing his eyeball to fall out of its socket.
(Click HERE to view an image showing Bratt's injury. WARNING: The image is graphic.)
Deputies' version of events
Genovese told the jury Thursday that he never kneed Michael in the head, and doesn't know how the man was severely injured. He also said Michael spat on him twice on the drive to the hospital, and fell when he got out of the cruiser at the emergency room.
George, meanwhile, told jury members that Michael dragged him inside their home, broke George's nose on a coffee table, tried to take his weapon and tasered him.
However, an expert testifying in the case told the court there was no blood trail in the home to corroborate George's version of events.
The judge ruled Thursday the jury would be allowed to learn that Michael was found "Not Guilty" by a criminal jury for battery on a law enforcement officer, and that a charge of obstruction against Marjorie was dropped.
During testimony, the jury also learned that the data on George's taser was corrupted.
Van Tassel was not in court Thursday because he moved out of state. He will appear during the trial via video testimony.
Both George and Genovese are still employed by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.