FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – A Florida sheriff placed a deputy on restricted service Friday after a video on cell phone showed the MP hitting the head of a teenager sprayed pepper against the ground.
MP Christopher Krickovich has been ordered to surrender his weapon and badge until the end of Thursday's battle investigation, said Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony. He took office in January after Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Scott Israel for managing the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.
"We will see this as a fact-finding measure to make sure we hold people accountable," Tony said in a video-taped statement.
Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen called for the dismissal of Krickovich and the discipline of another MP, claiming on Twitter that their conduct was "scandalous and unacceptable".
But Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff's Office Deputies Association, criticized Tony's decision, saying that Krickovich and his colleagues were applying the aggressive police tactics advocated by the new sheriff. After the shooting of the Stoneman Douglas, the deputies were sanctioned for not breaking into the school.
Bell, a long-time critic from Israel, said that Tony's self-defense training was so aggressive that the union had to grieve because MPs had suffered concussions, fractures and bleeding from the brain.
"They did exactly what they were trained for," said Bell. He added that Krickovich and the other deputies were surrounded by 200 students and feared for their safety. Instead of reacting to the video posted on social media, he said that Tony should broadcast the camera video of the deputies' body, which would show why they reacted in this way.
"OUR BLACK YOUNG PEOPLE ARE NOT SAFE" It happened today at J.P. Taravella High School. What do you say about that ..#Never again Do black students fear for their lives those who are supposed to protect us? #Never again Are black boys initiated to the taste of blood and pavement? pic.twitter.com/bk8HeLbO0V
– Mei-Ling Ho-Shing (@MeilingIts) April 18, 2019
The video taken by a student and published on social media shows Krickovich and Sgt. Greg Lacerra in the midst of a crowd of African American high school students J.P. Taravella High School after a fight in front of a suburb of Fort Lauderdale McDonald's. Krickovich wrote in his report that due to a big fight Wednesday in the mall where the restaurant is located, the two men were stationed on Thursday in case of a new eruption. Bell said that Tamarac Square has long been a hot spot after school, with students threatening and harassing a mostly elderly clientele.
Krickovich said that Thursday's fight was over before the deputies could go there. While the crowd was dispersing, Lacerra noticed a teenager who had been asked to stay out of the square after Wednesday's fight. Krickovich said he stopped the teenager for the intrusion and had him put to the ground, causing him to drop his cell phone. He said a teenager in a red tank top picked him up.
It is here that the video begins. This shows that Lacerra pushes the teen into the red tank top in the head as he gets up. The teenager turns aside and seems to say something to Lacerra, who sprays his face and throws him to the ground. Krickovich jumps on the teenager, hitting his forehead twice and hitting him with his fists. A third assistant helps Krickovich pin the teenager's arms behind his back so that he is handcuffed at the end of the video.
Krickovich said that he had attacked the teenager because he was trying to get up and that he was afraid that the teenager would try to fight or run away.
"All three of us were outnumbered by the big group of students screaming, threatening and surrounding us," wrote Krickovich. "I had to act quickly, fearing to be hit or that a student would potentially take weapons on my belt."
The teenager, whose name was not revealed, was accused of assaulting a police officer, of having resisted arrest and intrusion.