FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony is speaking about the controversial arrest by two of his deputies of a teenager in Tamarac last week that was caught on camera.
The video shows the deputies pepper-spraying a teenager outside a McDonald’s restaurant, throwing him to the ground, pinning him down and slamming his head into the pavement while also punching him.
Tony provided important perspective and context about how he sees the video, the use of force training that his deputies receive and why he cannot answer questions right now about whether the use of force in this case was appropriate.
The Sheriff, whose been on the job since January, said this was his first reaction to the video: “You instantly wonder was it excessive? Did we go over the top? Was there any justification behind all these acts?”
Tony said that’s why he instantly ordered an internal affairs investigation to determine if the arrest was done right.
“I have to balance out a couple of things with that,” said Tony. “We’re still under an internal affairs investigation. I don’t have the liberty to just blast out an opinion because that impacts the entire investigation. Whatever comes out of my mouth It’s gonna influence the investigators. It’s gonna influence whoever’s being interviewed because we have a lot of witnesses we’re having to bring forward. I have to stay somewhat neutral in this and ensure I don’t impact this investigation whether it be positive or negative.”
The Sheriff wanted to reassure the public that there are thousands of deputies who have millions of contacts with the public each year and that this video is not reflective of the vast majority of those contacts.
“So when these incidents take place where we see what appears to be the worst of what a deputy could do, understand that that is not what is going on out here on a routine basis and when it’s alarming, when it appears shocking, it’s not just alarming and shocking to them, it’s alarming and shocking to me and my command staff and it’s gonna require us to look into it,” he said.
Tony suspended the two deputies, Sgt. Greg LaCerra and Deputy Christopher Krickovich, with pay.
The men are the subject of the BSO Internal Affairs investigation as well as an investigation by the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
The video has also placed the use of force training policies at BSO under the microscope, but Tony said reports are incorrect that he’s instituted any policies to make BSO more aggressive.
“Since I’ve taken office here I haven’t changed one single policy that relates to use of force,” said Tony. “The majority of the policy changes with regards to training that I’ve been focused has been related on active shooter training protocols because that’s where we were grossly deficient.”
There’s been widespread criticism of the actions of the deputies and calls for them to be terminated, but the Sheriff said that determination can only come after a thorough investigation.
“I’m doing a balancing act of ensuring that I not only protect the deputies rights that they have but also be sympathetic to the community and what their needs are,” Tony said. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you’re a deputy, a civilian, a firefighter, whatever your profession is. The laws are equitable and due process has to be handled in all shapes, form and capacity, even if a deputy is wrong.”