BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony asked for patience Friday as Internal Affairs investigates the rough arrest of a 15-year-old boy in Tamarac.
"Roughly 90 days ago, I was appointed to this position exclusively about accountability. And that accountability will be held, not just for the sake of when we are right, but in the cases where we may be wrong," Tony said.
Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen, meanwhile, released a statement, saying the deputy who was captured on cellphone video banging the teen's head into the ground during the arrest Thursday should be fired.
"The behavior of these Broward Sheriff's Office deputies was outrageous and unacceptable," Bogen's statement read. "The officer who jumped on the student, punched the student and banged his head to the ground should be fired immediately. There is no excuse for a law enforcement officer to harm a teenager who was on the ground and who gave no resistance. I also have a problem with the deputy who threw the student to the ground after he pepper sprayed him. After being sprayed, the teen held his face and walked away. If the deputy wanted to arrest the student, he could have easily done so without throwing him to the ground. I hope the appropriate authorities investigate this conduct and take the appropriate action."
The 15-year-old appeared in court Friday, and one of the charges against him was downgraded.
He was originally arrested on charges of aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest without violence and trespassing.
The teen's attorney argued in court that there was no probable cause for the aggravated assault charge, and the judge agreed to downgrade it to a simple assault charge.
The judge, however, said there was a struggle during the incident outside the McDonald's in Tamarac and the teen tried to get his arm free, which led to the resisting arrest charge.
The teen, who has no prior history with the criminal justice system, was released to his mother after the hearing.
The incident between the teen and the deputy was captured on cellphone video by a group of teens who told Local 10 News they had gathered at the McDonald's after school to watch two teens fight.
According to an arrest report, the Tamarac Town Square Plaza on Pine Island Road, where the McDonald's is located, has been a popular place for students to fight after the school, which resulted in deputies being assigned to patrol the plaza.
Deputy Christopher Krickovich wrote in the arrest report that there had been a fistfight the day before, which resulted in an innocent bystander's vehicle being damaged.
Krickovich wrote that one of the teens at the scene Thursday had been there the day before and had been warned not to trespass on the property.
He wrote that he and Sgt. LaCerra walked over to the teen and ordered him to sit down.
According to the arrest report, Krickovich grabbed the teen, took him to the ground and placed him in handcuffs.
Cellphone video shows a deputy restraining a teenager in the parking lot when another deputy pushes away a girl who appeared to grab a phone from the ground.
The same deputy then uses pepper spray on the teen who appeared in court Friday, after the teen appears to intervene. After pepper-spraying the teen, the deputy is seen grabbing him and taking him to the ground.
Krickovich and another deputy then jump in, and Krickovich bangs the teen's face on the pavement and punches his head.
According to the arrest report, the teen tried to pick up the other apprehended teen's cellphone on the ground and LaCerra ordered him to stay back.
The arrest report stated that the teen took an aggressive stance toward LaCerra and began clenching his fists.
Krickovich wrote that the teen was then pepper-sprayed and forced to the ground.
The deputy claimed in the report that the teen appeared to be pushing up while he was pushing down on the teen to apprehend him.
"Again, the three of us were outnumbered by the large group of students who were yelling, threatening us and surrounding us. I had to act quickly, fearing I would get struck or having a student potentially grab weapons off my belt or vest," Krickovich wrote.
According to the arrest report, Krickovich was forced to punch the teen in the head as a "distractionary technique" to free the teen's right hand, which the teen had placed under his face as the deputy was slamming it into the ground.
"I think it's outrageous. I think anybody in this community who looks at this video would say the same thing," the teen's attorney, Richard Della Fera, said. "His family is very upset as to what happened to him."
Della Fera's client and another teen were arrested in the incident.
A man who witnessed it all told Local 10 News he believed the deputies went "way too far."
"The video clearly shows there wasn't even an assault on this officer," Della Fera said. "So we're just at the very beginning stages of this and we're going to continue to pursue it and get justice for this young boy and his family."
The Broward Sheriff's Office released a statement Friday, saying: "Sheriff Gregory Tony is committed to accountability in every case and at all times.
"We vow to conduct an open, transparent and thorough investigation into the incident that occurred April 18 in Tamarac. The deputy has been placed on restrictive administrative assignment."
According to the memo given to Krickovich, he was ordered to surrender his BSO ID card, any other symbol of authority and any BSO-issued weapons.
He is also not allowed to drive a BSO vehicle at this time and is not allowed inside any BSO facility, except where assigned, without the approval of Internal Affairs.
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