Deputy Christopher Krickovich of the Broward County Sheriff’s Department was suspended after videos surfaced of him appearing to slam a student’s head into the ground during an arrest.
Sheriff Gregory Tony has vowed an “open, transparent and thorough investigation.” Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen and the teen’s family are calling for Deputy Krickovich to be fired.
Krickovich was initially put on restricted administrative assignment, along with the second officer seen in the videos, Sergeant Gregory Lacerra. The Broward County Sheriff suspended them both on Tuesday, April 23, according to a news release.
The incident happened on Thursday, April 18, in the city of Tamarac about half a mile away from J. P. Taravella High School, in a McDonald’s parking lot. According to a police report, the officers were monitoring that location because students had been using the area to fight after school.
The teenager, now widely identified as Delucca Rolle, was initially charged with assault. But prosecutors dismissed all charges against him on April 23.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Deputy Krickovich: Teenage Students Had Been Fighting in the Plaza; Deputies Had Broken Up a Physical Altercation the Previous Day & Were Dispatched to Prevent Another Fight
Deputy Christopher Krickovich filled out the probable cause affidavit following the violent confrontation and arrest on April 18. The deputies responded to the Tamarac Town Square Plaza after school had let out for the day.
Krickovich explained in the report that the location on Pine Island Road, located about half a mile away from a nearby school, had become a popular place for teenagers to hang out after school. He wrote, “We were tasked with proactive patrol inside the plaza due to the on-going issues regarding students who physically fight after school.”
Krickovich stated that deputies had broken up a large fight that had occurred at that location on April 17. The incident had resulted in damage to a witness’ vehicle. “Due to the fear of an additional fight and/or continuance of yesterday’s fight, we (Tamarac CST Detectives) were deployed in the plaza to ensure the safety of the students and patrons within the plaza.”
2. Deputy Krickovich Said That the Teenager Approached Him & Other Deputies As They Were Arresting Someone Else
Deputy Krickovich wrote in his report that he and the other officers saw that a large group of students was gathered in the northeast corner of the plaza on April 18. He saw that a fight had started. But the fight quickly dispersed as deputies approached the group and they did not determine who had been involved in the confrontation.
But as the crowd dispersed, a second officer identified as Sgt. Greg LaCerra noticed a young man who had allegedly been involved in the fight the day before. Krickovich wrote that the student had been warned the previous day that he was trespassing.
He is the first person you can see laying on the ground, with his hands cuffed, in the video above. He appears to be wearing a purple or dark blue shirt. Krickovich wrote that he “grabbed him and escorted him to the ground and placed him into custody without further incident.”
Krickovich noticed that student’s cellphone slide onto the pavement and land slightly behind Krickovich. He then saw a teenager in a red tank top try to grab the phone. “Sgt LaCerra ordered the student to stay back while I was in the ground with the other student, with my back turned. At this point, the male with the red tank top took an aggressive stance towards Sgt. LaCerra. The male with the red tank top bladed his body and began clenching his fists.”
3. Video Appears to Show Deputy Krickovich Slam the Student’s Face Down On the Pavement; Krickovich Wrote That He Punched the Teen in the Head to Distract Him & Get the Handcuffs On
Cellphone video recorded what happened next. Sgt. La Cerra is seen using pepper spray on the teenager in the red tank top, spraying him directly in the face at close range. The student turns his head and appears to be walking away.
Sgt. LaCerra is then seen grabbing the student and pushing him to the ground. Deputy Krickovich then jumped on top of the teenage and appeared to slam his head down onto the pavement. He wrote in the report, “Seeing the large crowd (200 plus students) converging on the two of us, I quickly jumped onto the male with the red tank top. With the crowd closing in and the loud yelling and threats toward us, I pushed down on the male to ensure my weight was full on his person so he could not attempt to take flight or fight us. The male with the red tank top felt like he was trying to push up while I was pushing down.”
Krickovich stated that he felt they needed to “act quickly” due to being outnumbered by the large crowd of teenage students. He wrote that he was concerned a student would try to take his weapon while he was struggling with the teen on the ground. The student had his right hand underneath his face, which was preventing Krickovich from putting him in handcuffs. Krickovich wrote that he “struck the male in the right side of his head with a closed fist as a distractionary technique to free his right hand. This technique was successful and I was able to place him into handcuffs without further incident.”
In the video, witnessed can be heard screaming in horror. In the video above, one person is heard yelling “What are you doing?!” and “He’s bleeding!”
The teenager was taken to the Coral Springs Medical Center to be checked out. He was later charged with assaulting an officer, resisting arrest and trespassing, according to the affidavit. But on April 18, a juvenile court judge dropped two of the charges and downgraded the first to simple assault. Prosecutors then announced on April 23 that they were dropping all charges against the teen, according to CNN.
4. The Broward County Sheriff Vowed to Conduct a Thorough Investigation; the Deputies Association President Defended Krickovich For Implementing the More Aggressive Tactics Officers Have Been Taught Following the Stoneman Douglas Shooting
Deputy Krickovich and Sergeant LaCerra were both initially placed on “restricted administrative assignment” after the incident. They were ordered to surrender their guns and badges during the course of the investigation. They are both now suspended.
Sheriff Gregory Tony released a brief video statement to social media on April 19. He promised that the department was conducting an open, transparent and thorough investigation.” He described the probe as a “fact-finding measure to ensure that we hold folks accountable.”
But the president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, Jeff Bell, defended Deputy Krickovich. He told the Associated Press that Broward County deputies had been undergoing training on more aggressive tactics following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. Bell told the AP, “They did exactly what they were trained to do.” He also pushed for the department to analyze the deputies’ body cameras as well.
5. The Mayor of Broward County & the Teen’s Family Have Called for Deputy Krickovich to be Fired
Mayor Mark Bogen of Broward County responded to the incident on April 19. He called the behavior of the deputies who responded to the incident “outrageous & unacceptable.” Without using Deputy Krickovich’s name, he called for the “officer who jumped the student, punched & banged his head should be fired.” Bogen said he also felt that the first officer, Sgt. LaCerra, could have arrested the teen after using the pepper spray and that throwing him to the ground was not necessary.
Bogen wrote in a follow-up tweet, “I hope appropriate authorities will investigate this conduct and take appropriate action. The behavior of these officers is outrageous and unacceptable. There is no excuse for law enforcement to harm a teenager who is on the ground and gave no resistance.”
The family of the teenager was also very emotional over the incident. The student’s aunt, who asked not to be named, spoke with ABC affiliate WPLG-TV. She cried as she said, “I can’t even understand, he’s a baby.” She said she didn’t understand why the deputy felt it was necessary to punch the student after using the pepper spray.