The Broward Sheriff’s Office has placed one of its deputies on restrictive administrative assignment after video showing the officer brutalizing a 15-year-old Black student during a violent takedown that has sparked national outcry.
Sheriff Gregory Tony made the announcement Friday, one day after a white deputy was filmed pepper-spraying the student, tackling him to the ground and repeatedly slamming his head against the pavement.
“What are you doing?!” a girl is heard shouting. “He’s bleeding!”
The incident unfolded during a harrowing after-school encounter between two BSO deputies and several J.P. Taravella High School students outside a McDonald’s in Tamarac, Florida.
“This incident is being conducted under a thorough investigation, we will look at this as a fact-finding measure to ensure we hold folks accountable,” Tony said during a pre-scheduled meeting with the Broward County Black Elected Officials group, video from which was posted to Twitter.
“That’s the most electrifying and dangerous situation for a law enforcement administrator to handle,” Tony, who was appointed in January as Broward’s first African-American sheriff, added. “Any time a white deputy is involved in contact with using force on a Black youth, this thing blows up.”
The deputies involved have been identified as Christopher Krickovich and Sgt. Greg LaCerra. Krickovich will remain on restricted assignment pending an investigation, while LaCerra’s status is unknown, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
Authorities responded to the fast food joint, a popular after-school hangout, around 3 p.m Thursday, where several students had reportedly gathered to see a fight, witnesses told Miami’s NBC 6. No fight ever occurred, but witnesses said deputies arrived and threatened to pepper-spray the students if they didn’t disperse.
Footage from the incident showed the deputies take one young man down, bang his head into the pavement and punch him in the head after he was already pinned to the ground. The student was reportedly trying to defend another student who’d been handcuffed by police, which resulted in him being pepper-sprayed and tackled to the ground.
“The next thing you know, his head started bleeding and everything, and while he was getting handcuffed, lil’ bro’ got punched in the face by police,” one student recalled.
In his report, Krickovich wrote that he and LaCerra were outnumbered by at least 200 students “who were yelling, threatening us and surrounding us. I had to act quickly, fearing I would get stuck or having a student potentially grab weapons off of my belt or vest.”
According to BSO reports, the deputies were on “proactive patrol” because of ongoing issues with fights after school and had taken one student into custody after he’d been issued a trespass warning the previous day. While he was being detained, his cellphone fell out of his pocket. That’s when a second student bent down to pick it up.
That student allegedly then “took an aggressive stance towards [a deputy] … bladed his body and began clenching his fists,” the police report said, prompting the deputy to “jump on the male.”
“With the crowd closing in and the loud yelling and threats towards us, I pushed down on the male to ensure my weight was full on his person so he could not attempt to take flight or fight us,” Krickovich’s report continued.
The deputy wrote that he was able to take the second student into custody after he “struck the male in the right side of his head with a closed fist as a distractionary technique.”
The encounter has received national attention, sparking outrage and calls for the deputies to be disciplined.
“So wrong!! Hurts me to my soul!!” NBA superstar LeBron James tweeted. “To think that could be my sons. Scary times man.”
“We don’t want lipservice,” Bishop Talbert Swan wrote of Chief Tony’s promise of transparency. “We want racist cops fired and prosecuted and charges against [the student] dropped.
Broward school board member Rosalind Osgood called for the deputies to be fired, while Mayor Mark Bogen described the officers’ actions as “outrageous and unacceptable.”
BSO reports showed that two teens were charged in Thursday’s incident; one with trespassing and the other the other with assaulting and resisting an officer without violence. The charge of assault against an officer was later dropped against the 15-year-old and reduced to simple assault.
As outrage over the video continues to grow, Tony reassured the city’s Black leaders that the investigation would be handled appropriately.
“It may take some time but we will be transparent, and if folks need to be held accountable, it shall be done,” Tony said Saturday. “I’m not going to sit and brush things under the rug.
“The facts are what they are,” he added. “We need them in a formal written documentation saying we’ve done our due diligence and done it under the letter of the law.”
Watch more in the video below.
Sheriff Gregory Tony holds open discussions with Broward's Black Elected Officials at a prescheduled meeting today and emphasizes his commitment to transparency and accountability. pic.twitter.com/r3Lz1QDd8C
— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) April 20, 2019