What to Know
- BSO Sgt. Gregory LaCerra and Deputy Chris Krickovich were charged with battery following the arrest of teen DeLucca Rolle
- A judge on Friday granted LaCerra's motion to dismiss the charges based on Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' law
- But the judge denied a similar motion from Krickovich
A judge has dismissed battery charges under Florida's so-called "Stand Your Ground" law against a Broward Sheriff's Office sergeant but has refused to do so for another deputy in the case of a rough arrest of a teen that was captured on cellphone video.
Broward Circuit Court Judge Jill Levy on Friday granted Sgt. Gregory LaCerra's motion to dismiss battery charges but denied former deputy Chris Krickovich's similar motion.
LaCerra and Krickovich were charged following the April 2019 arrest of then 15-year-old DeLucca Rolle at a shopping plaza parking lot in Tamarac.
The viral video of the encounter showed Krickovich on the back of the teen before he's seen pushing Rolle’s head into the pavement.
In her orders, Levy detailed the violent and chaotic history of students at the plaza, noting that law enforcement officers, business owners and employees confirmed it was a "location of substantial peril, an arena utilized for physical combat between the students and routinely against deputies, and a location known to all whom testified as a very dangerous place with consistent and escalating lawlessness and violence abound."
Levy said LaCerra was justified in believing Rolle was about to attack him after the teen had been "bowing and blading his body in what would be described as a pre-attack posture and telling LaCerra 'Don't f---ing touch me' with his hand in a fist," the orders said.
"The Court finds a reasonable person situated in LaCerra's position, knowing what he knew under the same circumstances would have acted in the same manner," Levy wrote. "LaCerra was justified in arresting Delucca Rolle for Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer, pepper spraying him and pushing him to the ground to make the arrest."
But in her order denying Krickovich's motion to dismiss the battery charges, Levy wrote that once LaCerra had pushed Rolle to the ground, the teen no longer posed a threat of imminent harm.
"When Krickovich jumped on top of Delucca, the use of non-deadly force in pushing his head into the ground and punching him in the head was not a reasonable action of self-defense," Levy wrote. Said in the most basic of terms, the Battery charges against Krickovich are a decision that involves justiciable issues of fact that should be made by a Jury."
Krickovich, who lost his job after the arrest, testified last month that he thought Rolle was going to strike LaCerra and that due to the situation, he took the action seen in the video to protect himself and LaCerra.
"The scene blew up. It felt so dangerous and so chaotic. I knew that I needed to get on top of Mr. Rolle immediately,” Krickovich said.
LaCerra still faces two lesser charges concerning the falsification of paperwork and conspiracy, but his attorney, Eric Schwartzreich, said he was pleased the battery charges were dropped.
"He was excited that the judge finally came to the correct conclusion once we filed the motion, that he’s happy and he’s elated but by no means is this over and we continue," Schwartzreich said.
Broward State Attorney's Office officials said prosecutors plan to appeal Levy's ruling.
Rolle and his family have been calling for justice since the day he was arrested, and his charges were eventually dropped.
“I feel disheartened, disappointed because I expect the law to protect us,” said Clintina Rolle, Delucca's mother. “I thought he would get justice because they saw it on camera. But the camera don’t really matter.”
Benjamin Crump, the family's attorney, said in a statement that they were "deeply disappointed" in the court's decision to grant LaCerra's motion.
"In the midst of a social movement in which we are desperately trying to empower a generation and convince them that their lives matter, this decision sends a different message. It says that the marches, the rallies and the sacrifices have made no difference," Crump said. "The message to this generation of Black Americans is: you can be pepper sprayed, beaten, and falsely arrested, and the police will be permitted to hide behind a false 'Stand Your Ground' defense. It highlights once again that there are two justice systems in America, and the police will not be held accountable for maltreatment of Black citizens."
Even a year later, watching the video is still painful for Delucca, his mother said.
“Mentally, he’s not doing well,” Clintina Rolle said. “Sometimes he has his days where he’s good, then sometimes he has his days where he’s emotional.”
Family attorney Sue-Ann Robinson says the ruling is part of a much larger issue.
“A court is saying that a Black child unarmed is a weapon, is a threat,” Robinson said. “And that I think is the problem. When an entire system is now weapon using someone’s skin color, that is a huge issue, that’s a huge problem.”
Crump said he will continue to pursue justice against LaCerra and called for his permanent dismissal from his job.