A viral video that resulted in two Broward Sheriff's Office deputies being charged with battery is now taking center stage again as the deputies move to prevent prosecutors from going forward in the cases against them.
Deputies Christopher Krickovich and Gregory LaCerra say that Florida’s so-called "Stand Your Ground" law shields them from the charges, and Tuesday afternoon their attorneys were attempting to set the table for that argument.
The lawyers for both deputies and prosecutors appeared on zoom Tuesday while the judge in the case, Jill Levy, was in her chambers at the Broward Courthouse. Protectors said the deputies committed a crime when a 15-year-old was taken to the ground and then struck, but the deputies said they were in fear and only protecting themselves.
The video showed what happened in a McDonald’s parking lot in Tamarac back in April of last year. DeLucca Rolle said he was going to pick up a cell phone on the ground when he was pepper-sprayed by LaCerra and taken to the ground. Krickovich was seen hitting the teen's head on the pavement.
Judge Levy will decide if the deputies will be granted "Stand Your Ground" immunity, meaning the charges won’t go forward.
Their attorneys say LaCerra and Krickovich knew of the troubles in the parking lot before, including frequent fights, and had seen a video of problems there the day before.
"The state’s saying our client committed a battery by using excessive force. The expert would assist and show that there’s not mens rea (intent) because they did what they were trained to do and they were also in a situation defending themselves as they were trained," LaCerra’s attorney, Eric Schwartzreich, told Levy.
Prosecutors moved to prevent a list of witnesses from testifying, saying many of them would just repeat the same thing about the events of the day in April last year.
"It seems as if the state’s position is all that's relevant is the 10 or 15 second interaction between Mr. Rolle and the police officers, a lot of these witnesses saw portions of this, that's extremely relevant," said Jeremy Kroll, Krickovich’s attorney.
When it comes to the danger that Rolle presented to the officers in advance, Assistant State Attorney Justin McCormack said, "In this case, they don’t have any specific acts of reference of DeLucca Rolle the alleged victim because Mr. Rolle and the defendants never met before."
Law enforcement officers are now able to use the "Stand Your Ground" immunity after another BSO deputy, Peter Peraza, won a court battle at the Florida Supreme Court two years ago. Schwartzreich was also Peraza's attorney and in August of 2018 convinced the court that Peraza, who had been charged in the on-duty shooting death of a Broward resident, was a Florida citizen like anyone else and the immunity should also apply to him.
That opened the door for other law enforcement officers across Florida to now make the same claim. Prosecutors must overcome the immunity the way the Florida law now stands. Judy Levy will begin to hear their 'Stand Your Ground" claim in full on Friday.