Police dreaded the daily dismissal at J.P. Taravella High School because it usually meant several brawls would break out at the neighboring Tamarac Town Square plaza.
Fired Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Krickovich is on trial for misdemeanor battery following the arrest of 15-year-old DeLucca Rolle on April 18, 2019, near a McDonald’s in that plaza.
Cellphone video that went viral showed Krickovich and Broward Sheriff’s Sgt. Greg LaCerra trying to subdue and arrest Rolle by punching him and slamming his head into the pavement when the teenager resisted being handcuffed.
Prosecutors say Krickovich went too far.
LaCerra's battery charge was dismissed by a Florida court of appeal that ruled he was acting in self-defense.
The defense contends Krickovich was doing the same because the area was dangerous.
"One person would start fighting and other kids would jump in,” said Mamie Williams, a Taravella security specialist for 19 years. “It was crazy."
Dozens of deputies and backup officers were called to the plaza regularly because fights involving over 200 students were so frequent.
The fighting got worse over the years as students from other schools and adults joined in, said Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Blake.
“Fights were horrendous. Pretty violent,” he testified in court. “Students getting knocked out. Adults getting knocked out.”
None of the five defense witnesses that testified Thursday said they ever needed to punch or slam anyone’s head to the ground during an arrest.
The trial resumes Friday.