POMPANO BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - The family of a Pompano Beach student is speaking out and seeking legal action after, they said, the teen was tackled and placed in a chokehold by a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy on campus.
Jordan Bennett suffered a large gash above his left eyebrow during the confrontation with the deputy that took place at Blanche Ely High School, Feb. 21.
Highly pixelated cellphone video captured what appears to be the student on the ground in a headlock at the school cafeteria.
The student’s mother, Debbie Russell Bennett, addressed the incident on Monday alongside family attorney Jasmine Rand.
“It’s a disturbing video, just to see my child there being choked out,” said Russell Bennett.
The concerned mother said her son and another student got into a verbal altercation.
Rand said a custodian tried to break it up, and that’s when things became physical.
“A custodian came up and grabbed my client around the neck. He tried to push the custodian off of him,” she said.
But speaking with reporters, Monday evening, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony pushed back and defended his deputy.
“I will not hesitate to support these men and women when they’re doing everything that they’re supposed to do by law,” he said.
In the case of Bennett’s arrest, BSO officials said, the evidence and report tell a much different story from Rand’s account of the incident.
“The allegations that were made today by Mr. Bennett’s attorney are not consistent; they’re not accurate with what video footage shows, what the deputy’s actions were and what’s articulated in the report,” said Tony.
The sheriff said the deputy, a 20-year-veteran, was justified in his use of force.
“The video footage is clear. [Bennett] becomes aggressive, he becomes hostile. He snatches away, flaying his arms and elbows towards the deputy, and he begins to lunge for the School Board official,” said Tony.
But Rand and said it was clear from the footage that her client was injured.
“There’s no need to have a child in a continued chokehold, especially not after you’ve smashed his head against the concrete, and he has an open wound that’s bleeding,” she said.
The attorney said Bennett’s takedown happened a few weeks before Delucca Rolle’s rough arrest outside of a McDonald’s in Tamarac caused national outrage. Cellphone video that went viral captured a BSO deputy blasting the black teen with pepper spray while another deputy tackled him to the ground and hit him in the face.
Both deputies have been suspended pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation. Prosecutors later dropped all charges against Rolle.
Rand said both incidents show a pattern of police brutality.
However, Tony said, that was not the case and insisted his deputy did nothing wrong.
“That’s part of the repercussions when you are violating the law, when you are aggressive, when you are hostile, and deputies are forced to engage you, to restrain you,” he said.
“I don’t believe the narrative, first of all, because [Bennett] would have been charged,” said Rand. “The state attorney would have brought charges if my client kicked and hit and punched and bit two school administrators. They would have prosecuted him.”
Rand said the family is planning to sue BSO.
“The way that the school handled it and the way the Broward Sheriff’s Office has handled it is inappropriate, and it violated his civil and human rights,” she said.
BSO officials said they plan to release video from the deputy’s body camera once they wrap up their investigation into the use of force.
As for Bennett, he had to complete the PROMISE program and is currently enrolled in another school.
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