NEAR FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) — Public figures and community leaders are demanding swift action from the Broward County sheriff days after cellphone video footage showing a deputy body slamming a 15-year-old during an arrest in Tamarac sparked a national outcry and a protest outside the Broward Sheriff’s Office headquarters.
The video showing the rough arrest of 15-year-old DeLucca Rolle by BSO deputies outside a McDonald’s near J.P. Taravella High School, Thursday afternoon, went viral and garnered extensive media coverage.
On Twitter, #JusticeForLucca is now trending.
Former Miami Heat star LeBron James weighed in on the incident, tweeting, “So wrong!! Hurts me to my soul!! To think that could be my sons. Scary times, man.”
Monday evening, protesters holding up #JusticeForLucca signs gathered outside BSO headquarters near Fort Lauderdale to stage a demonstration.
“No justice, no peace,” chanted demonstrators.
Demonstrators called for the arrest and termination of Christopher Krickovich, the deputy who was captured in the video slamming the teen’s head against the McDonald’s parking lot pavement.
“This officer needs to be held accountable for his disgusting actions, his racist movements,” said Antoine Edwards. “It’s despicable and it’s disgusting, and we will be out here until he is terminated and arrested.”
Edwards expressed disagreement with the department’s standard protocol of conducting an investigation.
“I just don’t understand what they mean when they say they have to do an investigation,” he said, “when we all saw the same video.”
The footage shows Rolle picking up a cellphone in front of BSO Sgt. Greg LaCerra, who is seen saying something to the teen before he pepper-sprayed the student.
In a phone interview, BSO Deputies’ Association President Jeff Bell said LaCerra did nothing wrong.
“If you slow down the video, the juvenile does take a step back, then takes a step forward toward the deputy. We’re not gonna wait to be hit by anybody,” said Bell, “so the deputy pepper-spraying him and then taking him to the ground was absolutely the correct thing to do.”
Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen said Rolle did not resist arrest and believes LaCerra was in the wrong.
“Anybody who looks at the video knows what the officer did was absolutely inappropriate,” he said.
Moments after he was pepper-sprayed, Krickovich is seen grabbing Rolle. The video shows that deputy pressing down on the teen’s neck with both hands, then hitting his head against the pavement. Krickovich is then seen hitting the student in the head.
Rolle’s family has hired high-profile attorney Benjamin Crump to oversee the case.
He arrived to the State Attorney’s Office on Tuesday morning with his mother and lawyer by his side.
“The next step is to make sure that the case is thoroughly investigated,” said Sue Ann Robinson with Ben Crump Law, “that he isn’t facing any charges for being abused and that the officers are held accountable.”
Bell said that despite Rolle having already been pepper-sprayed and tackled to the ground, Krickovich’s actions were justified.
“The deputy did not push his head down toward the ground until the juvenile put his hands in a position as if he was going to do a push-up and try and push up against the deputy,” said Bell.
But Broward Chief Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes disagreed with Bell’s assessment.
“You cannot take a child and bang his head on the floor, and then try to claim that you were trying to get his attention, trying to use a tactical response,” said Weekes. “What you’re trying to do is cover up your misconduct.”
Weekes said Krickovich should face charges.
“It was a heavy-handed display of police misconduct, and that accountability should include termination,” he said. “It should include severe repercussions, and it probably should include a review of criminal charges being brought against that officer.”
Meeting with local black leaders over the weekend, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony came to Krickovich’s defense.
“Anytime a white deputy is involved in contact and using force with the black youth, this thing blows up, OK?” said Tony. “How we handle that from an administrative standpoint has to be tactical, very tactical. There’s been a large cry of, ‘Just go out and fire him and get rid of him,’ and all these other things. Folks, it doesn’t work that way. You all understand that. There has to be an investigative process.”
However, members of the Broward County Congressional Delegation released a statement expressing outrage over what the video showed.
“At a time when unarmed black children are being beaten and killed at an alarming rate by law enforcement in this country, we appreciate Sheriff Gregory Tony is conducting a thorough investigation, but we also urge him to be fully transparent and to take appropriate action to reassess the office’s crisis response training and techniques, so that this type of incident does not occur in our community in the future.”
The statement was signed by Rep. Alcee Hastings, Rep. Ted Deutch, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Frederica Wilson.
Krickovich has been placed on administrative leave. The State Attorney’s Office continues to investigate the incident.
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