Tamarac, FL – A deputy is under investigation after he pepper-sprayed and arrested a non-compliant 15-year-old boy on Thursday (video below).
The incident happened in front of the McDonald’s restaurant in the Tamarac Town Square Plaza on Pine Island Road after school hours on April 18, WPLG reported.
That location has been a popular spot for high school students to meet up and fight after classes let out, and so Broward sheriff’s deputies had been assigned to patrol the area.
In the arrest report, Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Krickovich wrote that a fight in the same spot the prior day had resulted in damage to an innocent bystander’s vehicle, according to WPLG.
Deputy Krickovich wrote that he recognized one of the teens as a boy who had been trespassed from the shopping center property the day before, so he and a sergeant on the scene told the boy to sit down on the curb.
The boy refused to comply with officers’ commands and so Deputy Krickovich took him to the ground and officers handcuffed him face down on the pavement, the video showed.
While they were doing that, a female student tried to grab the cell phone dropped by the boy who was being arrested, but the sergeant kicked it out of her reach.
The video showed the crowd of more than 50 teenagers was encroaching on the deputies as they tried to gain control of the situation.
"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," Deputy Krickovich wrote in the arrest report, according to WPLG.
In the video, another boy in a red tank top bent over and made a grab for the phone, who deployed pepper spray in the boy’s direction.
The boy in the red tank top backed away but the sergeant followed and took him to the ground to arrest him, the video showed.
At that point, Deputy Krickovich and another deputy jumped on top of the struggling boy to try and gain control of him and apply handcuffs.
The deputy could be seen trying to push the teen's head to the ground as the teen tried to hold himself up.
During the struggle, the teen's head hit the ground. It's not clear if the deputy intended to slam is head down, or if it was the result of the deputy trying to hold him down as the teen resisted.
Deputy Krickovich wrote in his report that, during the struggle, he had to punch the boy in the head as a “distractionary technique” to free the boy’s hand, which he was holding under his head.
Eventually, deputies were able to handcuff the boy, and when they sat him up, his face looked to be bleeding from its contact with the pavement but he was otherwise uninjured.
He was charged with aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest without violence and trespassing, WPLG reported.
When he appeared in court later the same day, the judge agreed to downgrade the aggravated assault charge to simple assault, but he upheld the charge for resisting arrest.
The 15 year old was released into the custody of his mother after his court appearance, WPLG reported.
Other students who were present to witness the fight that was supposed to have happened after school filmed the altercation on their cell phones and posted it to social media, where it quickly went viral.
Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen quickly released an outraged statement that called for the termination of Deputy Krickovich, WPLG reported.
"The behavior of these Broward Sheriff's Office deputies was outrageous and unacceptable," the 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,” the mayor continued. “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."
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, who took office in January after newly-elected Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, pledged transparency into his department’s investigation into the incident, according to WPLG.
"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," Sheriff Tony promised as he asked the community for patience on Friday while the incident was investigated.
"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,” the sheriff said in a statement.
You can see the incident unfold in the video below: