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After a sheriff’s deputy in Broward County, Florida, pepper-sprayed a 15-year-old black boy and punched him in the head Thursday, activists nationwide — and even the local mayor — want to see him fired.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office, however, has placed the deputy on restricted duty and hasn’t decided yet whether he should be dismissed entirely.
The incident, which occurred near the teen’s high school, was captured on cellphone video and shared on Snapchat, stoking outrage on social media. Over the weekend, thousands rallied online, calling for action against deputy Christopher Krickovich. More than 40,000 people have signed a petition calling for the deputy’s removal. Celebrities and athletes have also gotten involved, including LeBron James, who shared the video on Twitter Saturday.
“The behavior of these Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies was outrageous and unacceptable,” Broward Mayor Mark Bogen said in a statement Friday. “The officer who jumped on the student, punched the student and banged his head to the ground should be fired immediately.”
The sheriff’s department said in its report that the 15-year-old was near a large group of teenagers that were allegedly fighting outside the McDonald’s by their school, according to the Miami Herald. Cops asked the teens to leave the area, and arrested one male student for trespassing. While they were arresting that student, a cellphone slipped out of his pocket and the 15-year-old picked it up.
Krickovich said the 15-year-old, who was arrested on charges of assault, resisting arrested, and trespassing, took an “aggressive stance” toward a deputy and “began clenching his fists.”
“Again, the three of us were outnumbered by the large group of students who were yelling, threatening us and surrounding us,” Krickovich wrote in an arrest report seen by the Miami Herald. “I had to act quickly fearing I would get struck or having a student potentially grab weapons off of my belt vest.”
The sheriff’s office, headed by the recently appointed sheriff Gregory Tony, is investigating the incident. In a meeting with black community leaders Saturday, Tony, the county’s first black sheriff, explained the investigative process.
"There has been a large cry of, 'Just go out and fire him. Get rid of him.' And all these other things,” Tony said, according to the Local10 news station. “Folks, it don't work that way. You all understand that. There has to be an investigative process and due process elements so it's going to be done the right way."
David Hogg, a survivor of last year’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in nearby Parkland, shared a fundraiser for the boy’s legal fund on Twitter. He called for the sheriff’s office to hold a town hall, adding that police brutality “needs to be addressed before they murder a child.”
Cover photo: Then-acting Sheriff Gregory Tony, right, speaks at the Broward County Sheriff's Office Fort Lauderdale headquarters, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee).