FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida deputy has been fired after cellphone video showed him violently slamming a teen’s head into the pavement and punching him moments after the teen was pepper-sprayed.
An internal investigation recommended that Deputy Christopher Krickovich be exonerated, but Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony overruled that suggestion, announcing Wednesday that he had fired the deputy.
Tony said the decision was “long overdue,” adding “we don’t have a policy that allows a deputy to slam someone’s head into the ground.”
In April, deputies responded to a large brawl involving roughly 200 students at a McDonald’s in Tamarac.
Cellphone video shows Sgt. Greg Lacerra pepper-spray 15-year-old Delucca Rolle and throw him to the ground. Krickovich jumps on the teen, twice slamming his forehead into the ground and punching him. A third deputy helps Krickovich pin the teen’s arms behind his back to be handcuffed as the video ends.
Krickovich said he feared the teen would try to run away or fight them and said they were outnumbered by the large group of students.
Students watching the arrest screamed “he’s bleeding” and “what are you doing?”
The video was viewed millions of times on social media, quickly drawing criticism to an agency already under fire for its handling of the Parkland high school mass shooting. LeBron James even posted about it on social media.
Rolle was charged with assaulting a police officer and obstruction without violence, but those charges were dropped. The state attorney later announced misdemeanor battery charges against LaCerra and Krickovich. Deputy Ralph Mackey was charged with falsifying records.
The Professional Standards Committee recommended no discipline for Krickovich, but the sheriff said Wednesday he vigorously disagreed and noted the deputies were not fighting for their lives in this situation.
Mackey received a written reprimand for not turning on his body-worn camera. An investigation into Lacerra is ongoing.
Sheriff Tony, who took the job early this year after the former sheriff was ousted by the governor, said there’s always a shift in how to handle discipline when a new sheriff arrives.
The committee’s review process had become too adversarial, allowing long debates between the union and the committee, which affected objectivity, the sheriff said.
Going forward, the process for selecting committee members will be more robust. The sheriff said he planned to personally interview new members.