A Broward Sheriff's Office sergeant testified Wednesday on his behalf after being charged in the rough arrest of a teen last year in Tamarac.
Gregory LaCerra said he feared for his life and believes his charges should be dropped.
“Scary as hell. I will be honest with you when you have that many people around you,” LaCerra said.
He told his version of what happened that day in April 2019, when he was seen along with Deputy Christopher Krickovich in a video that went viral. It shows Krickovich on the back of then 15-year-old DeLucca Rolle and his head is being pushed into the pavement.
LaCerra said in just one school year, there was over 80 calls for service at that plaza in Tamarac. LaCerra also told Broward Judge Jill Levy that the plaza where Rolle’s was arrested had been the scene of chaos before.
Eric Schwartzreich, his attorney, played a video showing teens fighting the day prior to Rolle's arrest. LaCerra said this was on his mind when he encountered Rolle and he said a swarm of other teens the next day.
“We are surrounded, all the way around, 360 degrees,” LaCerra said. He pepper sprayed Rolle and took him to the ground after he says after giving a warning. “I started giving orders to back up. I gave numerous, multiple orders to back up. I told them whey would be pepper sprayed."
Rolle says he was just going to pick up a cellphone another teen -- who was also arrested -- dropped. Prosecutors say the two deputies used excessive force and have been charged with battery, but LaCerra testified he thought Rolle wanted to attack him.
“I thought he was going to strike me so I deployed my pepper spray,” LaCerra testified.
Both deputies say they were in fear for their safety and deserve immunity from prosecution because of the situation they faced. Krickovich was terminated by BSO and is challenging his firing. LaCerra is on restricted duty and being paid. The charges against Rolle were dropped.
The judge has already determined that the two deputies have met the required legal standard to use this "Stand Your Ground" immunity. It's now up to the prosecutors to overcome that because of the way the law works in Florida. The hearing continues Thursday at 1:30.