Video shows police officer pepper spraying black high-school student before slamming his head to the ground

Sheriff restricts officer to administrative assignments after video sparks outrage

Conrad Duncan
Sunday 21 April 2019 16:37 BST
Video shows police officer pepper spraying high school student before slamming his head to the ground

A Florida police officer has been placed on restricted duty after a video emerged showing police pepper spraying and slamming a high school student to the ground.

An investigation has been launched into the incident at JP Taravella High School, Carol Springs.

The video, which circulated on social media, shows officers, who appear to be white, aggressively arresting a black student while a member of the crowd is heard screaming: “What are you doing? He’s bleeding!”

After the student was thrown to the ground, an officer twice slammed his forehead into the ground and punched him in the head.

Deputy Christopher Krickovich will be restricted to administrative assignments while the investigation is carried out, according to local news reports.

“I want to assure you that this incident is being conducted under thorough investigation,” Broward County sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement, asking for patience while the incident is investigated.

“We will look at this as a fact-finding measure to be sure we hold folks accountable.”

Broward County mayor Mark Bogen described the officers’ behaviour as “outrageous and unacceptable” and called for the officer who punched the student to be fired.

“There is no excuse for law enforcement to harm a teenager who is on the ground and gave no resistance,” he said.

The incident is thought to have happened shortly before 3pm on Thursday, when police responded to reports of a fight outside a McDonald’s in Tamarac, Florida.

Mr Krickovich wrote in his report of the incident that two officers were stationed at a shopping centre where the McDonald’s is located because of a large fight on Wednesday.

He said he arrested a teenager, seen restrained on the ground at the start of the video, who was told to stay away from the shopping centre.

When the student went to pick up the teenager’s phone, two officers pepper sprayed him and pushed him to the ground.

Mr Krickovich claimed he pushed down the student because he feared for his safety.

“The three of us were outnumbered by the large group of students who were yelling, threatening us and surrounding us,” he wrote.

“I had to act quickly, fearing I would get struck or having a student potentially grab weapons off my belt or vest.”

Police officer who pepper sprayed high school student placed on administrative assignment

The student, whose name has not been released, was reportedly transported to Coral Springs Medical Centre for treatment and arrested with another teenager over the confrontation.

The video sparked widespread backlash against the officers with basketball player LeBron James, actress Gabrielle Union and Parkland shooting survivor Mei-Ling Ho-Shing condemning the arrest.

Broward County School Board member Rosalind Osgood released a joint statement from the student advisor to the School Board and JP Taravella’s student president.

“This act of violence will not be tolerated and we encourage law enforcement agencies to take more time into training officers on how to interact and behave when in the presence of children and teenagers,” the statement read.

The student arrested in the video originally faced charges of aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest without violence and trespassing.

However, the aggravated assault charge was downgraded to a simple assault at a court appearance on Friday after the student’s lawyer argued there was no probable cause for the more serious charge, according to local news.

“The video clearly shows there wasn’t even an assault on this officer,” the student’s attorney, Richard Della Fera, told Local 10 News.

“So we’re just at the very beginning stages of this and we’re going to continue to pursue it and get justice for this young boy and his family.”

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