The trial for Willard Miller, a former Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy accused of getting too rough with a student in 2019, is on its second day.
The teenager’s mother took the stand describing the difficulties her daughter, Summer Smith, endured over the past two years since the incident, Wednesday.
The trial began on Tuesday and state prosecutors are trying to prove that Miller is guilty of child abuse after taking down a 15-year-old girl.
“Your perception of the way she carried herself of Sept. 2019 was that she was bigger and tougher than everyone?” said defense attorney Jeremy Kroll.
“She just hated the world,” said the student’s mother, Rose Perricone.
Perricone also disclosed that her daughter indeed has difficulties. She was only reading at a kindergarten/first grade level and was also behind in math. The school is a special school for children with special needs and said the deputy should have known better.
A mental health counselor who worked with Summer also took the witness stand.
“On most occasions she was angry, defiant,” said mental health counselor Caroline Kuehn.
Summer also took the stand Tuesday, and described the reason behind tapping the back of Miller’s leg that day.
“I think it was for the purpose of making his leg buckle,” said Smith.
Clips of the incident showed Smith tapping the back of Miller’s knee with her foot, making it buckle.
Kroll stated that slowing down the video would present a different scene.
He also claims that Summer had threatened Miller that she would kick him again. In order to avoid that he apprehended her.
“He grabbed me from the back of my neck and front,” said Smith.
His attorney also mentioned once Smith was on the ground, she threatened to take the former deputy’s gun.
Kuehn said after the body slam, Miller took Smith to her office.
“She was crying hysterically, so she was terrified of going to jail,” said Kuehn, “and I said, ‘OK, well, maybe you should apologize.’ First Summer said, ‘I’m sorry.’ What I recall, he explained to her that if these things had happened outside of the school, she would have been arrested.”
At the time, the incident was thought to be over when they shook hands afterward, but that was not the case. Instead Miller was eventually arrested and charged with child abuse.
A month after the incident, Perricone took Summer to the doctor. According to Kroll, it was advised by an attorney.
The chiropractor’s diagnosis stated Summer had: abrasion, contusion, sprain and strain to her back and neck.
The former deputy took the stand Wednesday, and in his own defense, he gave jurors information on his background.
He was an elementary school teacher, worked at a mental health facility and has earned a Master’s Degree before becoming an officer, ultimately doing so, he said, was to help his community.
“I wanted to become a police officer so I could, you know, my past experiences, and the way I have dealt with my community,” said Miller. “I could add that to law enforcement.”
Miller and his attorney have gone through a play by play for the jurors to show the moves that were made to bring Summer to the ground. He said he lost his footing, and Summer’s foot got stuck on the chair as well.
“I had no malice intentions. It just– I wanted to take her down, and that’s what happened,” said Miller.
He was the only witness for the defense.
Thursday, lawyers will present their closing arguments and deliberation will begin.
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