A Florida sheriff’s deputy assigned to a school was arrested and charged with felony child abuse after he was caught on video grabbing a 15-year-old girl by the neck and slamming her to the floor.
Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Willard Miller, 38, surrendered to authorities on Tuesday and was released on $5,000 bond to await trial. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.
Miller was working as a school resource officer for Cross Creek School in Pompano Beach on Sept. 25 when surveillance video captured his violent interaction with the female student. The school, about 35 miles north of Miami, serves emotionally and behaviorally disabled students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
In the video, released by the sheriff’s office, the girl can be seen tapping Miller’s leg with her foot moments before he grabs her by the neck with both his hands and throws her to the floor.
Then he’s seen flipping her over, putting his knee in her back and handcuffing her. The video shows him then pushing her through a doorway, causing her to hit a wall.
The student doesn’t appear to have been seriously hurt. Miller was charged under a child abuse law that specifies “without great bodily harm.”
Miller was removed from his position at the school and placed on administrative leave on Sept. 27. He was suspended without pay on Oct. 28.
Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony called Miller’s actions “deplorable” during a news conference Tuesday. He applauded school district officials for alerting the sheriff’s office to the deputy’s misconduct.
“It’s embarrassing, OK, when we have one individual that acts outside the confines of the oath that they take, it goes on every news channel, it spreads across the country,” Tony said.
“I’m tired of it,” he continued. “I’m going to fix it and I’m going to hold people accountable.”
Miller’s arrest follows several accusations against the Broward County Sheriff’s Office related to excessive force. A deputy was fired last week for punching a handcuffed man in a hospital bed in January.
Two other deputies are awaiting trial on misdemeanor charges of battery and falsifying police reports after a teen was pepper-sprayed and his head was slammed into the ground outside a McDonald’s in April.