Margate officer suspended amid accusations of mistreating 4th-grader

MARGATE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida school resource officer has been suspended without pay for one month after recently released surveillance video appears to show him mistreating a fourth-grade student on two occasions, earlier this year.

Atlantic West Elementary School in Margate has suspended SRO Vonley Williams following two incidents, on Feb. 15 and 17, that were caught on camera.

The footage shows Williams carrying the male student over his shoulder down a hallway, Feb. 15.

A police document states the officer described the boy as out of control after being involved in some sort of argument with another student.

Two days later, video shows Williams gripping the same student by the collar of his shirt as he removed the pupil from the school cafeteria. Another camera showed the two of them struggling before the officer escorted the boy down a hallway, still leading him by the collar.

Once again, Williams told detectives, the boy was being unruly and defiant.

Sabrina Segal, the publisher of MargateNews.net, said the law enforcer always had the children’s best interests at heart. “He was a fixture. He was part of the Atlantic West family,” she said.

Segal sad the aggressive behavior shown in the surveillance videos are not representative of the Williams she knows. “He was calm, cool, collected,” she said.

Williams, Segal added, was always eager to engage and bond with the students. “He’s playing with the kids at a fall festival event. He’s making bracelets with all the kids,” she said, referring to an event where the officer was caught on video dancing with another participant.

But according to Margate Police, Williams has been reprimanded nine times and suspended four times since 2004.

In the cases at Atlantic West, he violated several policies, including acting as a school disciplinarian, according to the police department.

But Segal said that doesn’t tell the whole story. “Reading the I.A. report, you will see that he believed that the assistant principal was in danger at one point in time,” she said, “and that is apparently why he did what he did.”

A Broward County School Board spokesperson released a statement on the matter that reads in part, “The safety and security of our students and staff across school campuses are Broward County Public Schools highest priorities. The School Resource Officer (SRO) can play an essential role in working with school leaders, teachers, staff and students to enhance safety and security, but should not be involved in student discipline matters.”

Williams has been an officer at Atlantic West since 2014 and has served in the Margate Police Department for 15 years. 7News cameras captured the officer in 2009 speaking to a reporter as Margate Police’s public information officer.

Williams began serving his suspension without pay on Thursday. He is currently working as a road patrol officer.

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