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No need to investigate deputy for hurting student, sheriff says

Sheriff stands behind deputy's use of force at Blanche Ely High School

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said Monday afternoon that his department will not be investigating a deputy's use of force during the arrest of a 17-year-old student at Blanche Ely High School. 

Cellphone video of the Feb. 21 arrest shows Jordan Bennett's panicked face. His parents, Calvin Bennett and Debbie Russell-Bennett, hired Jasmine Rand, a Coral Gables-based civil rights attorney who is known for representing the family of Trayvon Martin. 

"Jordan left school that day in an ambulance instead of a school bus," Rand said in a statement. "He went home that evening with stitches and now has a permanent scar on his forehead."

Tony said that after reviewing cellphone, surveillance and body camera video he decided the deputy's actions at the school were appropriate. He also said an internal affairs investigation into the arrest is unnecessary. 

"The allegations that were made today by Mr. Bennett's attorney are not consistent and they're not accurate with what video footage shows what the deputy's actions were and what's articulated in the report," Tony said during a news conference.

The student's parents disagree. They said he was arguing with another student when a deputy decided he needed to slam his head on the floor. They don't believe the chokehold or the physical violence was necessary. 

"Just sitting there, seeing my son's face all bloody, big gash on his head," Russell-Bennett recalled during a news conference. "You know, wondering if he had a concussion or anything like that. It was a scary moment."

Tony said he wanted to address the public to be sure they have as much accurate information as possible and added that his message will not change.

"If my deputies step out of line and they violate policies and protocols, if they breach and use any form of excessive force, they will be held accountable," Tony said. "But when they are right, I will also stand here and tell you that."

About the Authors:

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.