A Broward County sheriff’s deputy is on “restricted administrative assignment” after a video surfaced that appears to show him slamming a teenage boy’s head into the ground and then punching the teen in the head.
The video of the Thursday incident appears to show one Florida deputy spraying pepper spray in the face of a teen boy. As the teen appears to walk away with his hands on his face, the deputy follows him, grabs him and slams him to the ground.
Another deputy then jumps onto the boy’s back, slams his face into the pavement more than once and punches the teen in the head.
In the background, bystanders can be heard yelling “What are you doing?” and “He’s bleeding.”
The video, which has since gone viral on social media, has sparked outrage over the deputy’s conduct.
Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony released a video statement Friday saying there would be a “thorough investigation” into the incident.
“We will look at this as a fact-finding measure to ensure that we hold folks accountable,” said Tony, who was appointed to his position about three months ago. “I was appointed to this position exclusively about accountability and that accountability will be held not just for sake of when we are right, but in the cases where we may be wrong.”
The Broward County Sheriff’s office said on its website that the Division of Internal Affairs is investigating the incident.
The office of Broward County State Attorney Mike Satz is also investigating, he said in a statement Monday.
“Our prosecutors and investigators had already scheduled a meeting for Tuesday with the attorney for the 15-year-old student,” Satz said in the statement. “The student’s family has hired a new attorney and we are arranging a meeting with the new lawyer as soon as they are available.”
Deputy says he ‘had to act quickly’
An arrest report from the Sheriff’s Office says detectives with the Tamarac Crime Suppression Team were on “proactive patrol” at the Tamarac Town Square Plaza because of recent student fights at the strip mall. The day before the deputies’ encounter, the report says, there had been a large fight that resulted in damage to property and a bystander’s vehicle.
The officer writing the report, Christopher Krickovich, said a fight Thursday stopped before he and other deputies walked up. As the crowd dispersed, the deputies saw a teen who had been involved in Wednesday’s fight. Krickovich wrote he and another deputy — identified as Sgt. LaCerra — approached the teen and put him into custody because he was trespassing.
Krickovich said as he was detaining the teen, he noticed another boy wearing a “red tank top” reach down and try to grab the phone of the teen being detained, the report says. LaCerra told the boy to stay back because Krickovich was on the ground with his back turned, Krickovich wrote in the report.
“At this point, the male with the red tank top, took an aggressive stance towards Sgt. LaCerra,” Krickovich wrote. “The male with the red tank top bladed his body and began clenching his fist.”
That’s when LaCerra sprayed the boy with pepper spray, the report says.
Krickovich wrote in the report that he saw the big crowd of 200-plus students “converging on the two of us,” so he jumped on the boy with the red tank top.
“With the crowd closing in and the loud yelling and threats towards us, I pushed down the male to ensure my weight was full on his person so he could not attempt to take flight or fight against us,” Krickovich wrote, adding that it felt as though the boy in the red tank was trying to push up while he was pushing down.
“I had to act quickly, fearing I would get struck or having a student potentially grab weapons off my belt or vest,” Krickovich wrote.
Krickovich said he punched the boy in the head “as a distractionary technique to free his right hand” from under his face.
The 15-year-old boy, who has not been identified, was taken Coral Springs Medical Center, cleared and then taken to Juvenile Assessment Center. He was charged with assault, resisting arrest and trespassing, according to CNN affiliate WFOR-TV. He appeared in court Friday morning and was released to his parents.
Mayor says deputy should be fired
Broward Mayor Mark Bogen released a statement Friday condemning the actions seen in the video.
“The behavior of these Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies was outrageous and unacceptable,” Bogen said. “The officer who jumped on the student, punched the student and banged his head to the ground should be fired immediately. There is no excuse for a law enforcement officer to harm a teenager who was on the ground and who gave no resistance.”
Bogen said he also had a problem with the deputy who threw the boy on the ground after pepper spraying him.
“After being sprayed, the teen held his face and walked away,” Bogen said. “If the deputy wanted to arrest the student, he could have easily done so without throwing him to the ground. I hope the appropriate authorities investigate this conduct and take the appropriate action.”
Celebrities also reacted to the video on social media Saturday.
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers wrote on Twitter: “So wrong!! Hurts me to my soul!! To think that could be my sons. Scary times man.”
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr wondered on Twitter “What the hell is wrong with our country? This is insane yet routine. So demoralizing.”