A South Florida sheriff’s office has placed a deputy on administrative leave after a video appeared to show officers pepper-spraying a teenager, tackling him to the ground, and one deputy slamming the teen’s head on the ground and punching him.
The Broward County deputy faces calls for his firing as well as an investigation from state prosecutors following Thursday’s incident. The county’s mayor called the deputies’ actions “outrageous and unacceptable.”
“The officer who jumped the student, punched & banged his head should be fired,” county Mayor Mark Bogen said in a tweet Friday. “I have a problem with the deputy who threw him to the ground after he pepper sprayed him. He could’ve easily arrested him after the spray.”
In a statement obtained by HuffPost on Monday, Broward State Attorney Mike Satz said his office is investigating what happened.
“Our prosecutors and investigators had already scheduled a meeting for Tuesday with the attorney for the 15-year-old student. The student’s family has hired a new attorney and we are arranging a meeting with the new lawyer as soon as they are available,” Satz said.
Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony, in a video statement on Friday, said his department is performing a full investigation and will review it “as a fact-finding measure to ensure that we find folks accountable.”
“Understand that we will be transparent, and if folks need to be held accountable, it shall be done, so please be patient with us,” he said.
The deputies were reportedly responding to a fight outside a McDonald’s restaurant near J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs when the incident occurred.
One of the deputies stated in a police report obtained by the Sun Sentinel that they were surrounded and outnumbered by about 200 students who threatened them.
“I had to act quickly, fearing I would get stuck or having a student potentially grab weapons off of my belt or vest,” one officer reportedly stated.
The officers’ report described the 15-year-old who was filmed being slammed to the ground as taking an “aggressive stance” toward one of the deputies and refusing orders to back away as another boy was arrested on a trespassing charge. According to the officers’ account, the deputy jumped on top of the teen after pepper-spraying him because the deputy said he feared for his safety.
The video appears to show the teen being pepper-sprayed and then walking away from the deputies with his back turned to them before an officer grabs him from behind.
The teenager was charged with assault, resisting arrest and trespassing, CBS Miami reported.
This story has been updated with a comment from the Broward State Attorney’s office.