As Broward prosecutors investigate the actions of suspended Dep. Christopher Krickovich, they might want to also scrutinize his words.
After Krickovich repeatedly smashed 15-year-old Delucca "Lucca" Rolle's face into the pavement and punched him in the head, the deputy wrote an arrest report justifying the actions that were captured on cellphone videos and have caused outrage not only in South Florida but across the country.
Broward Mayor Mark Bogen says he's watched the videos dozens of times and finds the actions of Krickovich reprehensible. He's called for Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony to fire Krickovich immediately.
"The videos speak for themselves," says the mayor.
Indeed, a careful comparison of Krickovich's account with cellphone videos of the after-school incident at Tamarac Town Square indicates the deputy misrepresented the confrontation in his arrest report, loading his account with exaggerations and seeming outright falsehoods.
The videos show that while Krickovich was arresting another youth for trespassing, bystander Rolle, a Taravella High School student, bent down to pick up a fallen cellphone several yards away. As Rolle is down, Sgt. Greg LaCerra can be seen approaching him and pushing him by the head. Krickovich wrote in his report that his back was turned to them at the time, but nonetheless, he describes what happened next.
"At this point [Rolle] took an aggressive stance towards Sgt. LaCerra," he wrote. "[Lucca] bladed his body and began clenching his fists."
The videos do not support that description. Lucca clearly does not "blade" his body, or turn it at a perpendicular angle in a fighting stance. The teen does stand up to the deputy, but does not make an aggressive action toward him and never clenches his fists. In fact, he can be seen backing up slightly just before LaCerra blasts his face with pepper spray.
The pepper spray temporarily blinds Rolle, who walks away from LaCerra, rubbing his eyes, when the sergeant comes up behind him, grabs him, and throws the five-foot-seven, 164-pound teen on the pavement. It is then that Krickovich can be seen jumping on Rolle, who is face down, repeatedly smashing his face into the pavement. He then punches Rolle in the side of the head, leaving him bloodied and in need of medical treatment.
In the arrest report, Krickovich described the crowd as threatening and aggressive, as if he had been in the middle of a riot.
"Seeing the large crowd (200-plus students) converging on the two of us, I quickly jumped on [Rolle]," Krickovich explains in the report. "With the crowd moving in and the loud yelling and the threats against us, I pushed down on the male to ensure my weight was full on his person so he could not attempt to take flight or fight us."
Yet the video clearly shows that when LaCerra pepper-sprayed Rolle, the students did not converge on the deputies. Instead, they stood farther back, giving the deputies wide berth. But that's not what Krickovich described.
"Again the three of us were outnumbered by the large group of students who were yelling, threatening us and surrounding us," he wrote. "I had to act quickly, fearing I would get struck or having a student potentially grab weapons off my belt or vest."
Vicente Thrower, an activist and political consultant, says he has watched the video numerous times.
"I don't see anyone converging on him," says Thrower.
"[Rolle] felt like he was trying to push up while I was pushing down," Krickovich wrote. "... At one point, his left arm was free and next to him, while he placed his right arm under his face. I struck the male in the right side of his head with a closed fist as a distractionary technique to free his right hand.”
The videos show Rolle did push up in a natural reaction to keep his face from being crushed into the pavement.
"Who wouldn't resist their head being pushed into the ground?" asks Thrower.
Mayor Bogen says the excuse that Krickovich had to punch Rolle to "distract" was "BS."
"The kid was on the ground, not resisting," he says.
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Former BSO Col. Alvin Pollock, who is running for sheriff in 2020, also called Krickovich's actions indefensible. "These are kids," he says. "How can you defend pounding a kid's head? The kid was laid out."
The deputies charged Rolle, who has no previous record, with assault and resisting arrest without violence. The charges were dropped entirely by prosecutors Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, Tony, who initially simply took Krickovich and LaCerra off the road and reassigned them, announced that he was suspending them with pay.
The State Attorney's Office is continuing its investigation.
Clarification: A statement by former Broward sheriff's Col. Alvin Pollock has been removed from this story due to imprecise and confusing language that has been misinterpreted by readers. Pollock never told our reporter he believed any deputies involved in the Rolle case should be prosecuted criminally. He did indicate he believed they should face internal discipline. Pollock, who has announced he is running for sheriff in 2020, said he will support the decision of the State Attorney's Office after its investigation into the deputies' actions is complete.