Florida sheriff’s office accused of using excessive force
The sheriff’s office in Broward County, Florida, found itself under scrutiny last week after footage emerged of two deputies pepper spraying, punching and slamming a 15-year-old’s head into the pavement.
It’s the most recent example of Broward sheriff’s deputies being caught on camera appearing to use excessive force.
In recent months, the county public defender’s office has sent at least two letters to the sheriff’s office, demanding that it review two separate cases.
In one, body camera footage captures one deputy putting his hand around the neck of an African-American father and calling him “boy.” And in another, a deputy is seen punching a suspect who was handcuffed to a hospital bed.
Here’s how the events unfolded, according to public records:
Deputy grabs black father’s neck and calls him ‘boy’
Lawyers with the public defender’s office wrote to the sheriff in January, describing a July 2017 incident in which Deputy James Cady arrived at a local hotel “in reference to a female patron.”
Allen Floyd, who is black, is sitting on a curb with his 9-month-old son, footage from Cady’s body camera released by the public defenders shows. According to a probable cause statement, the woman was watching Floyd’s baby.
In the footage, Cady demands to see Floyd’s identification; Floyd asks him why.
Cady then threatens to “call child services.” When Floyd tries to respond, Cady yells, “Quit f***ing with me, boy!” according to the tape.
Floyd responds calmly to Cady throughout the encounter and tells the deputy his name. The father also asks Cady to stop yelling so close to the baby, but the deputy continues.
Floyd soon stands up and starts to walk away, telling the deputy, “Stop calling me ‘boy.'”
Cady then grabs the father — still holding his son — and pushes him against a car, according to the video. He tells another deputy to take the baby, then puts his hand around Floyd’s neck and tells him to shut up.
Cady lets go and soon tells Floyd he needs to see his ID because he doesn’t want the baby to leave with a man who might not be his father, the footage shows.
“I don’t want no problem with y’all, man,” Floyd says. “But you just keep calling me ‘boy,’ grabbing me by my neck.”
He hands Cady his and the baby’s Social Security cards, and the rest of the encounter is civil, the video shows.
Floyd, who was not arrested that night, told CNN affiliate WSVN in February that he wanted the deputy investigated and that he was offended when he was called “boy.”
The public defenders, Howard Finkelstein and Gordon Weekes, say the video “depicts a clear display of police abuse,” adding that the deputy’s “use of the term ‘Boy’ is offensive, condescending and demeaning,” their letter states.
“It carries racial connotations when used while addressing an adult black male,” the attorneys write.
An internal sheriff’s office investigation into the incident is underway, with information about it sent to the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
CNN could not reach Cady for comment.
Deputy punches suspect handcuffed to a hospital bed
The public defender’s office sent another letter to the sheriff last week regarding a January 1 encounter in which a deputy punched a suspect who was already handcuffed to a hospital bed.
According to the letter, Deputy Jorge Sobrino, who was investigating a report of a domestic disturbance at a Walmart, arrested the man for “resisting without violence” and took him to a local hospital to treat injuries that he’d sustained.
The suspect, David O’Connell, was put in a hospital room and handcuffed to the bed, the letter said. He later repeats that he wants to leave and begins to yell to people outside the room, “I don’t want to be here, I want to sign off.”
Sobrino, who is “clearly irritated,” the public defender’s letter said, closes the door to the hospital room and tells the suspect to “shut up” and “sit down,” though the suspect is already on the bed.
Sobrino “aggressively confronts (the suspect) and throws him on the bed,” the letter said, before punching the suspect in the face and then twisting his arm behind his back — though the suspect is “already subdued,” the letter said.
“Deputy Sobrino punched Mr. O’Connell in the face without physical provocation because he was frustrated with Mr. O’Connell,” the letter said.
“Punching a restrained individual who is not physically aggressive is unacceptable.”
In his police report, Sobrino claimed the suspect pushed him in the chest, but the public defender’s office’s letter said his version of events “vastly differs from the facts as displayed in the video.”
In a statement, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said last week that it had opened a preliminary investigation into the incident after receiving the letter from the Office of the Public Defender.
CNN has been unable to reach Sobrino for comment.
According to court documents, O’Connell pleaded no contest to resisting an officer without violence and battery on a law enforcement officer.
Deputies slam teen’s face into pavement
In the most recent incident, two deputies were patrolling a strip mall in Tamarac earlier this month and came upon the scene of a fight where a crowd of about 200 students had gathered, according to a police report.
As Sgt. Gregory Lacerra and Deputy Christopher Krickovich arrested a teenager, Krickovich wrote in the police report, 15-year-old Delucca Rolle tried to pick up a phone belonging to the teen who was being detained.
The deputies said in a police report that he balled his fists as if to fight them and resisted arrest.
“I had to act quickly, fearing I would get struck or having a student potentially grab weapons off my belt or vest,” Krickovich wrote. He said he punched Delucca in the head “as a distractionary technique to free his right hand” from under his face.
Video from the incident shows a deputy pepper spray Delucca. As the boy walks away, face in his hands, the deputy body slams him. Another deputy gets on the teen’s back, slams his face into the pavement and punches him in the head, the video shows.
“He’s bleeding,” one bystander says.
According to the teen’s mother, he suffered a fractured nose.
Last week, Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Delucca, alleged officers filed bogus charges — which the prosecutor’s office said will not be pursued — against the boy to justify their actions.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office said the two deputies have been suspended with pay pending an internal investigation. Neither Lacerra nor Krickovich could be reached for comment.
In a statement, Broward Mayor Mark Bogen condemned the officers’ actions, calling their behavior “outrageous and unacceptable.”
“There is no excuse for a law enforcement officer to harm a teenager who was on the ground and who gave no resistance,” Bogen said. He added, “I hope the appropriate authorities investigate this conduct and take the appropriate action.”
CNN’s Keith Allen and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.