=Leaders in a South Florida community are calling for disciplinary action against Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies seen on video pepper-spraying, tackling and punching a Black teen outside a McDonald’s in Tamarac on Thursday.
The video, filmed by a student, shows at least two deputies take the teen to the ground before ramming his head into the pavement and punching him multiple times. A crowd of students from nearby JP Taravella High School, who’d reportedly gathered at the restaurant to see a planned fight, watched in horror and disbelief.
“What are you doing?!” a girl is heard screaming. “He’s bleeding!”
Broward school board member Rosalind Osgood and Mayor Mark Bogen are among a slew of local leaders criticizing the violent actions of the two deputies and are demanding the sheriff’s office take action immediately.
“These are deputies who are hotheads, who do not know how control their tempers,” Bogen said in a statement, adding that the deputy who slammed the teen to the ground should be suspended, at minimum. He said that the second deputy who struck the teen in the head and forced his face into the should be fired altogether.
“It was outrageous that a deputy would do this to an unarmed student who was not fighting back, who was giving no resistance.”
Osgood called the deputies’ actions “unacceptable,” writing on Twitter: “The young man clearly had his hand by his side when he was attacked by these officers.”
Jordan Payne, a concerned local who witnessed the incident, told Miami station 7News he thinks the police went way too far.
“Is that a fair way to treat a 13, 14-year-old, however old he may be? That’s a grown man,” Payne said of the deputy. “You can’t treat a kid like that. Come on, now. Punching him while he’s on the floor? At that point, you already had him detained. Why go further?”
However, one of the BSO deputies seen in the video claims he stepped back in a defensive manner out of fear that he would be struck by the teen.
A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Thursday that the department is aware of the video and is reviewing the incident.
“They’re investigating the incident to determine exactly what happened, how it started, how it escalated and they’re looking at the outcome of it,” spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said.
According to the newspaper, authorities have not released the names of the deputies involved. However, a lawyer for one of the teens identified them as Deputy Christopher Krickovich and Sgt. Greg Lacerra.
Authorities said two juveniles were taken into custody Thursday, one of whom recently appeared in court. A third teen was taken to a hospital for evaluation after being pepper-sprayed by police, 7News reported.
Relatives of one of the 15-year-olds were emotional Friday when the young man faced a judge for multiple charges that included aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest without violence. The teen’s lawyer, Richard Della Fera, argued there was no evidence of aggravated assault, after which the charge was reduced to simple assault.
“The judge correctly noted that this young man did not commit an aggravated assault on an officer,” Della Fera said.
After a stern warning from the judge, the teen was released into the custody of his mother. He still faces trespassing and resisting arrest without violence charges.
Watch more in the video below.