A Florida sheriff’s deputy has been placed on restricted duty after a video showing him slamming a black teenager’s head into the ground and punching him went viral, fueling calls for the officer to be fired.
The incident occurred on April 18, when Deputy Christopher Krickovich and another officer approached a large group of high school students in a shopping center in Tamarac, Florida. One of the boys was arrested for trespassing, according to a report submitted by the officers, and video footage taken by students at the scene shows the boy in handcuffs. Video then shows a nearby officer push another boy back. As the boy moves, he is pepper-sprayed in the face. When the teen begins to walk away, the officer pulls him to the ground.
Bystander videos show Krickovich, who joined the other officer in restraining the teenager, pushing the boy’s head down, at times causing his forehead to slam into the concrete, before punching the boy in the side of the head. (The boy appears to be using his arm to protect his face). The other students yell at the officers to stop, and some of them can be heard saying that the boy is bleeding while he’s on the ground.
The teenager was eventually handcuffed and charged with assault of an officer, resisting arrest, and trespassing.
Krickovich has been ordered to relinquish his gun and badge while he’s on “restricted administrative assignment,” and the investigation into the incident continues, USA Today reports. So far, no action has been announced against the officer who initially pepper-sprayed the teenager.
[WARNING: The following video contains violence.]
15 yr old Black boy, Lucca picked up a cell phone that fell out of the pocket of a Black boy who was being arrested. In response @browardsheriff officers Christopher Krickovich & Greg LaCerra pepper sprayed, brutally beat, and arrested him.— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) April 20, 2019
He broke no laws.#JusticeForLucca pic.twitter.com/RQLj38GYGN
The boy in the video has not been publicly named because he is a minor, but local news outlets have reported that he is 15 years old. On social media, activists sharing the video have called the boy “Lucca” and “DeLucca,” and videos of the arrest have been shared under the hashtag #JusticeforLucca.
As of Monday afternoon, some videos of the arrest had been viewed more than 8 million times and shared by celebrities like NBA star LeBron James. The video has also fueled calls for the officers involved to be fired, and an online petition calling for the officers’ termination has collected more than 40,000 signatures.
“This is unacceptable,” Rosalind Osgood, a member of the Broward County school board, tweeted on Friday.
And in a statement, Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen also said that the behavior captured on the video was outrageous and unacceptable. “There is no excuse for a law enforcement officer to harm a teenager who was on the ground and who gave no resistance,” Bogen added.
Footage of the violent arrest has sparked calls for the officers to be terminated
In the days since video of the arrest first went online, there have been numerous calls for the officers’ termination, with many observers arguing that the arrest was completely unnecessary.
According to the arrest report submitted by Krickovich, deputies had begun a “proactive patrol” of the Tamarac Town Square Plaza due to reports of students fighting at the shopping center after school. One such fight had apparently taken place on April 17, and resulted in property damage to a bystander’s vehicle.
Krickovich said that when officers approached the students on April 18, the teenagers appeared to have gathered for a fight, but there was no confrontation occurring when officers arrived. As students began to leave, Krickovich spotted a teenage boy who had been at the April 17 fight and arrested the boy for trespassing. The boy’s phone fell out of his pocket during the arrest, sliding away from him.
The phone slid near another teenager, who bent down to pick it up. Krickovich then claimed that the boy “took an aggressive stance” toward another officer and “bladed his body and began clenching his fists.” He was then pepper-sprayed and pulled to the ground.
The teen was arrested and taken to a local medical center for treatment. He appeared in court on Friday, where the aggravated assault charge was dropped, according to 7 News WSVN. On Friday, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office also released a statement, saying that it vowed “to conduct an open, transparent, and thorough investigation into the incident.”
The arrest comes as new Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony, the county’s first black sheriff, attempts to rebuild trust in the local community. Tony began his position in January after the previous sheriff was forced out, in part due to the department’s response to the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida.
On Saturday, during a meeting with black leaders in the county that had been scheduled before the Thursday incident, Tony said that his office would be transparent about its investigation, but added that Krickovich could not be immediately terminated.
“There has been a large cry of, ‘Just go out and fire him. Get rid of him.’ And all these other things,” Tony said. “Folks, it don’t work that way. You all understand that. There has to be an investigative process and due process elements, so it’s going to be done the right way.
”I’m not going to sit and try to brush anything under the table,” he added. “The facts are what they are.”