MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Broward judge is deciding whether Florida’s Stand Your Ground law applies to two deputies charged in the battery of a teenager.
A week-long virtual pre-trial hearing for Sgt. Gregory Lacerra and former BSO deputy Christopher Krikovich concluded Friday.
The two responded to a disruption outside a Tamarac McDonald’s in 2019, where more than 100 teenagers had gathered reportedly for a fight.
In a video that went viral, Lacerra is seen pepper-spraying a then 15-year-old DeLucca Rolle.
Krikovich is captured wrestling and pushing Rolle’s head into the ground.
“It’s scary as hell. There’s a 100 teenagers, it’s dangerous,” Sgt Lacerra testified earlier in the week.
WATCH: TEEN PEPPER SPRAYED, HEAD SLAMMED INTO GROUND DURING ARREST
Despite the tense crowd that had gathered on that April after school, prosecutors say deputies should have de-escalated the situation.
But Lacerra’s defense attorney Eric Schwartzreich says the deputy feared being punched and that is why he pepper-sprayed Rolle.
“Saying they should have de-escalated is like trying to rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic,” said Schwartzreich.
Rolle was captured on video clenching his fist during his encounter with the deputies.
He contradicted earlier statements he made when he testified about the incident last week during the pre-trial hearing.
But he told a judge he cursed at Lacerra and warned him not to touch him and that’s when he says he was pepper-sprayed in the face.
“Sgt. Lacerra and Christopher Krikovich didn’t have the luxury of sitting in their car while some teenager was beaten with a bat,” said defense attorney Jeremy Kroll.
Kroll argued that the two were standing their ground and feared for their safety.
Krikovich testified on Thursday that it was a chaotic scene and claimed he wasn’t trying to push Delucca Rolle’s head into the asphalt.
“My intent was to pin him to the floor. I wasn’t picking it up. He was doing all that pushing up and I’m trying to keep him down,“ said Krikovich.
But prosecutors say there was no excuse for excessive force because after being pepper-sprayed, Rolle is seen walking away With burning eyes.
“If the guy walks away, he’s not a threat to LaCerra or Krikovich. It matters for stand your ground purposes,” said Assistant State Attorney Justin McCormack.
Though a professional standards committee cleared Krikovich, BSO Sheriff Gregory
Tony fired him.
He said at the time, “Lives weren’t in danger. Nothing presented to use that level of force.”
Sgt. Lacerra is still with BSO on administrative duty. He is appealing a three-day suspension.
All charges against Rolle were dropped.
A third deputy, Ralph Mackey, charged with falsifying a police report was acquitted.