Broward County Deputies Assaulted a Black Teen. But ‘Accountability’ Is Not Enough.

Video still from footage of a Broward County Sheriff's deputy assaulting a black teenager, April 2019.

Video still from footage of a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy assaulting a black teenager, April 2019. Photo: Screenshot via Broward County Sheriff’s Office

The sheriff’s office in Broward County, Florida, has promised to investigate two of its deputies for assaulting a black 15 year old on Thursday. An 18-second video shows the officials — Christopher Krickovich and Sergeant Greg LaCerra — pepper-spraying the teen in the face, banging his forehead against concrete, and punching him on the side of his head. (The teen’s name has not been disclosed in news reports, but he has been identified on social media as “Lucca.”) Footage of the incident has circulated nationally, prompting outraged responses from celebrities and lawmakers alike. Sheriff Gregory Tony tried to assuage the concerns of local black civic leaders by vowing a “tactful” investigation. “That’s the most electrifying and dangerous situation for a law enforcement administrator to handle,” Tony, the county’s first black sheriff, said on Saturday, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Any time a white deputy is involved in contact with using force on a black youth, this thing blows up.”

That such a thing might “blow up” is appropriate. Years of activism and reporting have demonstrated the racism with which law enforcement is applied across the United States. In Broward County, its impact on black youth has been a point of special focus. A 2013 initiative led by Robert Runcie, superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, sought to eliminate disparities in the rates at which black students were suspended and arrested for in-school misconduct compared to their white peers. (During the 2011-2012 school year, black students were roughly two-thirds of those suspended, mostly for minor incidents — like using profanity or disrupting class — despite being 40 percent of the student body, according to the American Prospect.) Runcie partnered with local advocates and law enforcement to implement alternatives to suspension and prohibit arrests — 71 percent of which were for misdemeanors — in some cases where they had been allowed before. (Officers were, however, allowed to override some of these prohibitions: “I wanted to make sure deputies always had discretion,” then-Sheriff Scott Israel told the Prospect.)

The effect was almost immediate. By the end of 2013, suspensions had dropped 40 percent and arrests of students had fallen 66 percent. A more humane tint began to color how local law enforcement treated black children for whom youthful mistakes often meant years of condemnation as criminals. But Thursday’s incident proves that progress on one front does not constitute a sea change any more than it precludes regression. After 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February, criticism of how Broward County Sheriff’s deputies handled the shooting — including their failure to immediately enter the school when gunshots were reported — prompted an emphasis on meeting perceived threats with swift violence, according to the Washington Post. Deputies have since been re-trained on how to subdue subjects in what one sheriff’s union official described to the Post as a “Fight Club atmosphere.” Some participants have suffered injuries in the process, ranging from fractured bones to a detached retina to brain bleeding.

So when dispatchers on Thursday received calls that a group of teenagers had gathered in a McDonald’s parking lot in Tamarac — a popular hangout for local high schoolers — and that some of them were fighting, they applied the kind of immediate and decisive force that many wished they had wielded against Cruz. Among the differences was that such force is used traditionally against black youth with no such justification — as examples ranging from the 2015 police assault on a black girl in Richland County, South Carolina, to the February police beating of a black girl in Chicago illustrate. For these victims, the misapplication of brutal police training was their lot well before Parkland. That the 15 year old on Thursday committed no clear infraction, let alone a crime, highlights the absurdity of continuing to apply it after. In effect, the training changes in Broward County seek to level against men like Cruz a degree of violence that, for many unarmed black children, was already a danger. Such are the wages of a culture that looks to atrocities like Parkland to shape law enforcement policy, but seems unable or unwilling to ensure that officers do not greet innocent people with the same violence.

Accordingly, Krickovich, who wrote the police report about Thursday’s incident, seemed to inflate Thursday’s threat to justify his response. In his telling, he was arresting another teen for trespassing when Lucca bent down to pick up the boy’s cell phone. “While I was dealing with the male on the ground, I observed his phone slide to the right of me and then behind me,” Krickovich wrote, according to the Sun Sentinel. “I observed a teen [Lucca] wearing a red tank top reach down and attempt to grab the male student’s phone.” In the video, another deputy — identified by the Sun Sentinel as LaCerra — is seen shoving Lucca, after which Lucca appears to object verbally. In the report, Krickovich wrote that Lucca “took an aggressive stance” toward LaCerra, “bladed his body and began clenching his fists.” (The video shows no such clear aggression.) LaCerra then pepper-sprayed Lucca in the face and threw him to the ground. Claiming that he feared for his safety, Krickovich “jumped on [Lucca],” grabbed the prone teen by both sides of his head, slammed his forehead against the concrete, and punched him before another deputy helped him apply handcuffs.

Whether the deputies were actually afraid is less knowable — and arguably less telling — than their confidence that claiming they were would exonerate them of wrongdoing. Racism shapes this expectation. Outlandish scenarios arise from police accounts of the dangers that young black men allegedly pose. Officer Darren Wilson equated Michael Brown to a “demon” during his testimony about the 2014 shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, that sparked protests and riots. “[He] had the most intense, aggressive face,” Wilson told a grand jury. “The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon.” If one accepts that Brown was “like a demon,” claims that he barreled toward a police officer through a hail of bullets become palatable. (No criminal charges were filed against Wilson.) If one concedes that Lucca was similarly endowed, assertions that the unarmed teen posed a threat to gun-toting sheriff’s deputies — despite video evidence to the contrary — is plausible enough for Krickovich to gamble on investigators siding with him.

In a sense, Thursday was a predictable outcome of asking an institution whose job is violence to escalate. Lucca and Cruz — or Lucca and anyone who seeks to harm police officers, really — exist on polar ends of most realistic threat spectra, but separating them is of secondary concern to those convinced that safety means reflexively treating more people like the latter. Krickovich banked on this ambiguity. Racism likely helped rationalize his response, despite it transpiring in a community whose administrators, in the past, sought to reduce disparities. Indeed, it is hard to believe that he and LaCerra would have treated a white child the same way they did Lucca. But when an assault like Thursday’s is permissible as long as officers claim they are afraid — and can convince investigators that their response was consistent with what others would have done in their place — then the bigger issue is more fundamental than whether they were white and the victim black. The problem, one of many, is the public and institutional instinct to let the worst set the standard rather than remain outliers. Humane rules of engagement evaporate where every suspect is a demon. And whatever the outcome of the department’s investigation, it is worth asking if that is a reasonable price to pay for feeling safe.

 

Zak Cheney-Rice, NYMag., “Broward County Deputies Assaulted a Black Teen. But ‘Accountability’ Is Not Enough.”, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/04/broward-county-deputy-beats-black-teen.html
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Broward Police Officer who Assaulted 15 Year-Old Suspended From Force

 

Cellphones have been an instrumental tool in capturing alleged incidents of police brutality. This weekend, there were multiple videos taken of a Broward County, Florida police officer slamming a young black teenager’s head into the ground.

As the videos spread around social media, there were numerous calls for the officer involved to be fired. Deputy Christopher Krickovich has now been ordered to surrender his gun and badge as he is being suspended while the incident is investigated.

The arrest of 15 year-old Luca drew attention from Broward County’s Mayor, Mark Bogen. Bogen tweeted, “The behavior of these BSO deputies is outrageous & unacceptable. The officer who jumped the student, punched & banged his head should be fired. I have a problem with the deputy who threw him to the ground after he pepper sprayed him. He could’ve easily arrested him after the spray.”

Mayor Mark Bogen@mark_bogen

The behavior of these BSO deputies is outrageous & unacceptable The officer who jumped the student, punched & banged his head should be fired. I have a problem with the deputy who threw him to the ground after he pepper sprayed him He could’ve easily arrested him after the spray.

South Florida Sun Sentinel

@SunSentinel

Broward Sheriff’s Office investigates after video shows deputies pepper-spraying and punching teens https://trib.al/7OTBElf 

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Bishop Talbert Swann also weighed in, writing, “Demand that Broward Sheriff, Gregory Tony drop all the charges against Delucca, fire and arrest the racist, rogue officers that used excessive force and brutalized an innocent 15 year old boy.”

Bishop Talbert Swan

@TalbertSwan

Here’s another angle that shows @browardsheriff’s deputy pepper spraying unarmed Black boy, Lucca, who posed no threat. He then slammed his head into the concrete, arrested him & charged him with ASSAULTING the cops.

This is brutality.

Embedded video

Bishop Talbert Swan

@TalbertSwan

Demand that @browardsheriff Gregory Tony drop all the charges against Delucca, fire and arrest the racist, rogue officers that used excessive force and brutalized an innocent 15 year old boy.

Sign the Petition! http://chng.it/5KhTfFXw  pic.twitter.com/gR4sU4WZaN

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Golden State Warriors’ Coach and frequent Trump critic, Steve Kerr, also gave his opinion. “What the hell is wrong with our country? This is insane yet routine. So demoralizing,” wrote the Coach.

Steve Kerr

@SteveKerr

What the hell is wrong with our country? This is insane yet routine. So demoralizing.

Keith Boykin

@keithboykin

This is police brutality. https://twitter.com/TalbertSwan/status/1119612441049075713 

37.6K people are talking about this

Broward’s Sheriff, Gregory Tony is doing his best to manage the situation. Talbert Swann writes, “Gregory Tony held a meeting with Black Elected Officials & emphasizes a commitment to transparency & accountability.” The 15 year old boy involved in the incident is still facing charges.

 

TODD NEIKIRK, https://hillreporter.com/broward-police-officer-who-assaulted-15-year-old-suspended-from-force-32157

Who is Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel?

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/florida-school-shooting/96001569-132.html

 

The national profile of Broward Sheriff’s Office Sheriff Scott Israel may have risen sharply in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, but the triumphs and missteps of the longtime South Florida cop have been well-documented over the past 10 years.

So have Israel’s strong connections to Parkland. The sheriff now lives in Davie but previously resided in Parkland with his wife, Susan. He is the father of triplets, Brett, Blake and Blair, who all attended Stoneman Douglas. Brett was once the starting quarterback for the school’s football team, even playing under slain assistant football coach Aaron Feis, as did his brothers. Blake, who now attends Palm Beach Atlantic University, was a midfielder in lacrosse at Stoneman. Israel, 61, also coached football at Stoneman Douglas and North Broward Preparatory Academy, and has been the head coach of the Coral Springs Chargers Tackle Football Team. In 2008, he won a Brian Piccolo Coach of the Year award.

Born in New York, Israel is the son of a New York homicide detective. He began his career as a patrol officer for the Fort Lauderdale police department in 1979, later working narcotics in the 1980s and 1990s, when crime was rampant. Israel has been the subject of 10 internal affairs complaints, mainly for excessive force, although he was cleared in all of them. He served a stint as a SWAT commander and was North Bay Village chief of police from 2004 to 2008, but left to run for sheriff in 2008 and 2012. Israel eventually won in 2012, and easily won re-election in 2016.

Israel has historically been vocal concerning gun violence, opposing open-carry legislation and one law that would allow concealed weapons on campuses. He began implementing body cameras for his deputies in 2016. This week, Israel announced that deputies guarding Broward County Schools will now carry rifle, including AR-15s.

On Thursday, the Sun-Sentinel reported that a police officer assigned to Stoneman Douglas resigned after failing to enter the Parkland school as a gunman opened fire and killed 17 students and faculty. Israel said Deputy Scot Peterson should have “went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.” The sheriff placed two other deputies under investigation for their handling of possible warnings about the shooter, Nikolas Cruz.

This isn’t the first time Israel’s agency has encountered trouble over its response to a mass shooting. Months after the Greater Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport shooting, a 2017 Sun-Sentinel investigation revealed that Israel’s Broward Sheriff’s Office failed to “seize control and set up an effective command system” at the airport. BSO “erred from the very beginning in controlling the shooting scene in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2, where five people died and six others were wounded.” The reason, cited in a 99-page draft report by the agency itself, mentioned the sheriff’s office’s aging radio system, which garbled communications among officers, forcing police to improvise with “hand signals, runners and cellphones.”

Israel has also been scrutinized for his relationship with political operative Roger Stone. A Fort Lauderdale resident who built his career on smearing political enemies, Stone had a hand in the political campaigns of Richard Nixon, John McCain and Donald Trump. While backing then sheriff Al Lamberti in 2011, Stone told the Sun-Sentinel that “Scott Israel is an unqualified punk, a racist and a thief.”

One year later, Stone switched sides, helping Israel defeat Lamberti in the 2012 sheriff’s race. Since then, Israel “added to BSO’s payroll Stone’s book-writing partner, Stone’s book publicist and Stone’s long-time executive assistant,” and even had “Stone’s stepson transferred to detective.”

Citing mud slinging between Israel and Lamberti during the 2012 race, the Sun-Sentinel’s Editorial Board endorsed no one in that year’s primary for Broward County Sheriff. The Editorial Board backed Israel for his 2016 re-election as sheriff, writing that burglaries and violent crimes in BSO-patrolled areas were “way down” in the sheriff’s first term.

As Israel significantly trailed Lamberti in the 2012 race, the Sun-Sentinel reported that a late infusion of attack-ad cash from former Aerosmith guitarist Richie Supa, of Plantation, and Massachusetts construction magnate Robert Pereira helped tip the election in Israel’s favor. According to the same story, Pereira alone gave $245,000 to groups supporting Israel.

Israel also came under scrutiny in 2015 after a Broward grand jury indicted Deputy Peter Peraza in the 2013 slaying of Jermaine McBean, who was shot dead by the office in his apartment complex for toting an air rifle in public. Peraza became the first cop charged in an on-duty shooting in Broward since 1980, and public trust waned in the Broward Sheriff’s Office, prompting Israel to tell the Sun-Sentinel, “It’s a tough time to be a cop.”

After much speculation over the sheriff’s religious affiliations, Israel told the Sun-Sentinel in 2016 that he is Jewish and “attends the Parkland Chabad from time to time.” Israel leaned heavily on his faith during the 2016 campaign, saying this in one campaign ad flier: “My late father Sonny Israel fought in the Korean War and became a police officer because he believed in the call from the Talmud.” This came after multiple public speeches from Israel laced with Scriptural references, comments about “church pews” and his reluctance to discuss his spiritual beliefs.

Phillip Valys, February 24, 2018, South Florida Sun Sentinel, “Who is Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel?”, http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/florida-school-shooting/fl-florida-school-shooting-who-is-broward-sheriff-scott-israel-20180223-story.html

Broward Co. Sheriff Israel: ‘Not My Responsibility’ That His Employee Failed to Confront Parkland Shooter

“I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility.”

https://i2.wp.com/3o15h033zmpwracwx2i00rqx.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/fl-florida-school-shooting-who-is-broward-sheriff-scott-israel-20180223.jpg

Apart from Nikolas Cruz, charged with killed 17 people, the second villain of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, is shaping up as Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

At CNN’s “town hall” last week, Israel attacked defenders of the Second Amendment and said he and law enforcement “need more power.” Since then, it’s come to light that his department’s armed “school resource officer,” who was on the scene, failed to engage the shooter. So did three other sheriff’s deputies. When charged with corruption during a 2016 re-election campaign, Israel compared himself to Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, and former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula—and declared, “Lions don’t care about the opinions of sheep.”

Now there’s this stunning denial of responsibility, in which Israel explains to a local news reporter why he is refusing to resign: “I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility.”

Confidence in police is below its 2004 peak, even if it’s rebounded from a post-Ferguson low in 2014. There are many reasons for that, including a seemingly endless stream of cases in which police shoot unarmed suspects and face few if any legal consequences. Add to that now a high-profile cop categorically declaring that his ass is covered merely by giving the requisite training to his staff, rather than overseeing a properly functioning department.

The Parkland shooting is quickly moving from a story about the need for more restrictions on weapons and owners to one about how officials failed to execute their duties. Israel’s craven responses will only feed that narrative, which might at least have the salutary effect of raising public consciousness and holding police accountable.

Watch the clip here:

BSO deputy suspended after video of Fort Lauderdale airport shooting leaked

Suspension comes after someone’s reflection seen in leaked video

By Terrell Forney – Reporter , Amanda Batchelor – Senior Digital Editor , Victor Oquendo – Anchor/Reporter

Posted: 12:18 PM, January 10, 2017 Updated: 10:11 AM, January 11, 2017

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy was suspended with pay Tuesday, days after security footage of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shooting was leaked to TMZ, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said in a statement.

“Our investigation is moving forward,” Israel said. “We are making progress and aggressively pursuing this case. Today, I suspended a deputy with pay in connection with this active investigation.”

The deputy has been identified as Michael Dingman.

Michael Dingman suspended Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael Dingman has been suspended.

Before the Broward County Commission got down to business Tuesday, commissioners addressed the fatal shooting last week at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

“We are truly shocked and saddened by Friday’s senseless act of violence,” Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said.

Four of the five people killed have been publicly identified. Another six were shot but survived. Authorities said most were tourists in town to catch a cruise.

Authorities said 54 people were taken to Broward Health Medical Center for other injuries or health issues.

“Let’s not let this act stop us from living fully,” Commissioner Dale Holness said.

The attention now is focused on surveillance video leaked to TMZ over the weekend, which shows the accused gunman, Esteban Santiago, 26, firing at random in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2.

Someone described as a high ranking law enforcement officer with security clearance used a cellphone to record off of a monitor, not realizing that part of their own reflection was captured on the footage that was likely sold to TMZ.

“To know that somebody with that type of security clearance could think that it’s OK to leak evidence into a media organization really didn’t settle well with us, and it is a crime,” Sharief said.

The images are now in the hands of specialists with the FBI.

Sharief offered an apology to the families of the victims about the leaked video.

https://www.local10.com/news/crime/bso-deputy-suspended-after-video-of-fort-lauderdale-airport-shooting-leaked?platform=hootsuite

Broward sheriff’s deputy charged with extorting sex from security guard

https://media.local10.com/photo/2016/11/10/Deputy%20arrested%20boasted%20about%20passion%20to%20help%20others20161111043723_8326768_ver1.0_640_360.jpg

Rebeca Piccardo Sun Sentinel

Rookie deputy accused of extortion, tampering with evidence

Before dawn Friday, a rookie Broward Sheriff’s deputy who is accused of extorting sex from a security guard by threatening to charge him with possession of crack cocaine, walked out of Broward’s Main Jail, accompanied by a woman and using a sweatshirt to conceal his face.

Trazell McLeod, 20, who had only been with the agency for nine months, was fired Oct. 20, four days after he allegedly groped a guard, propositioned him and showed up at his home while on patrol in Pompano Beach, according to the arrest warrant.

During the encounter, the guard became concerned for his safety and ran away from McLeod, jumping a fence and hiding behind some bushes for 10 minutes until his wife picked him up, according to an arrest warrant.

When the guard and his family saw McLeod’s patrol car parked in their driveway, they drove past their home and spent the night in a hotel, the warrant said.

The next day, the security guard filed a complaint with the agency’s internal affairs investigators and helped them gather evidence against McLeod, the warrant said.

“It’s always disappointing to learn that a deputy who swore to serve and protect the public was only out to serve himself,” Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said in a statement Thursday, the same day McLeod was arrested.

McLeod is facing charges of extortion, official misconduct and tampering with or fabricating evidence. He was booked into Broward Main Jail Thursday afternoon. His bond was set at $2,500.

When he walked out of jail shortly before 5 a.m. Friday, reporters peppered him with questions.  But McLeod said nothing as he and the woman accompanying him got into a white SUV and drove away.

The incident began around 11 p.m. on Oct. 16. McLeod went up to a security guard on foot patrol near the parking lot at Ali Cultural Arts building, 353 Hammondville Road.

McLeod, who claimed he was patrolling the area due to “a high volume” of drugs and prostitutes in the area, demanded to frisk the guard, the warrant said.

McLeod made the guard go up against a wall of the cultural arts building and searched him, touching him in his “private area” several times, the warrant said.

At one point, McLeod told the guard, “you gonna have to give me this,” while groping him, the warrant said.

McLeod then claimed he found drugs while searching the guard, the warrant said. He also told the guard he could be “in serious trouble” for having a gun on him and accused him of trying to pick up a prostitute earlier.

The guard denied having drugs or trying to soliciting any prostitutes and told McLeod he had a concealed weapons permit.

McLeod did not arrest the guard or call in dispatch. Instead, he made the guard move to an area away from surveillance cameras and demanded sex on a “consistent basis” or he’d charge him, the warrant said.

The two men ended up in the security office, where the guard found the opportunity to escape through a side door while McLeod went to get something from his patrol car, according to the warrant.

When the guard met with investigators the following day, he said he received phone calls and a text message from a blocked number, which was later traced back to an application on McLeod’s phone.

At the investigators’ request, the guard texted the blocked number, prompting a phone call from McLeod.

“You’re not in trouble…I don’t know why you ran,” McLeod said.

The guard then confronted McLeod over the phone while investigators recorded the conversation.

“You say I had drugs on me, you said I was trying to solicit prostitution. I was doing my job, and you confronted me with that situation, you grabbed on me and all that, you make me uncomfortable,” the guard said.

McLeod replied, “keep lying,” and hung up.

The arrest warrant notes that McLeod had completed his field training and had been working independently for about a month and a half before the incident.

Bradford Cohen, the attorney representing the guard, said he’s seeking justice for his client.

“We’ve handled multiple cases against policing agencies…when it comes to any of these cases, we try to represent the victim and be the victim’s voice,” said Cohen, of Fort Lauderdale law firm Cohen & McMullen.”We’re hoping [McLeod] is held responsible both criminally and civilly.”

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-bso-deputy-sex-extortion-20161110-story.html?platform=hootsuite