A Broward Sheriff's deputy has been placed on restrictive administrative assignment after videos surfaced showing him body-slamming a student and punching and slamming his head against the ground.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony announced the move on Friday, a day after Thursday's rough encounter between the deputy and students from J.P. Taravella High School in Tamarac.
"This incident is being conducted under a thorough investigation, we will look at this as a fact-finding measure to ensure that we hold folks accountable," Tony said in a video statement. "We will be transparent and if folks need to be held accountable, it shall be done."
The deputy was identified as Christopher Krickovich.
A witness told NBC 6 that a large crowd of students from Taravella had gathered outside a McDonald's before 3 p.m. after rumors that a fight was going to happen. The fight never occurred, but the witness said deputies arrived and threatened to spray the crowd with pepper spray if they didn't disperse.
The witness said a student was grabbed and handcuffed by a deputy. Another student who was trying to defend the first student approached the deputies and got pepper-sprayed and thrown to the ground, the witness said.
One of the videos shows a deputy punching a student in the head while he was pinned to the floor. Another video later shows the student sitting on the ground, handcuffed and bleeding.
"The next thing you know, his head started bleeding and everything, and while he was getting handcuffed, lil bro got punched in the face by police," one student told NBC 6.
Witnesses said that student was rushed to the hospital. His condition was unknown. A couple of students were hit with pepper spray as well.
BSO reports showed two juveniles were charges in the incident, one with trespassing, the other with assaulting an officer and resisting an officer without violence.
According to the reports, deputies were at the eatery on N. Pine Island Road on "proactive patrol" due to ongoing issues with fights after school.
The reports said deputies were taking one student into custody after he had been given a trespass warning the day before. While he was being taken into custody, his phone slid out and the second student reached for it, the deputy wrote in the reports.
The second student "took an aggressive stance towards [a deputy]," the reports said. He also "bladed his body and began clenching his fists," the reports said.
"Seeing the large crowd (200 plus students) converging on the two of us, I quickly jumped on the male," the deputy wrote in the reports. "With the crowd closing in and the loud yelling and threats towards us, I pushed down on the male to ensure my weight was full on his person so he could not attempt to take flight or fight us."
The deputy wrote that he was able to take the student into custody after he "struck the male in the right side of his head with a closed fist as a distractionary technique."
Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen called the behavior of the deputy "outrageous and unacceptable" in a statement Friday.
"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," Bogen's statement read. "I also have a problem with the deputy who threw the student to the ground after he pepper sprayed him. 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."