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Two Florida police officers were caught on video this week banging the head of a Black teen to the ground. It’s an incident that’s prompted the hashtag #JusticeForLucca on social media.
The teen, who has not been named, was seen in numerous photos on social media with blood splattered across his face, and in videos showing a cop, since identified as Deputy Christopher Krickovich, pinning him down and banging his head on the ground. In the same video, Sgt. Greg Lacerra is seen joining him.
This is an act of police brutality and it will no longer stand in this community. We are doing everything we can to get people to share and repost this video so that we can seek #justiceforlucca pic.twitter.com/4Dgoddzxrz— @yaboy.yp (@yp_hollywood) April 19, 2019
Krickovich was reportedly made to surrender his gun and badge on Friday—a day after the incident took place outside a McDonald’s in Tamarac, Florida.
According to the Miami Herald, Krickovich said the two had been assigned that location on Thursday following a fight that took place a day prior. They arrived following another fight.
They arrested a teen who Krickovich said was not allowed at the location after Wednesday’s fight. After he put the teen on the ground, the teen’s cell phone dropped out of his pocket, which is when the victim, in a red tank top, tried to pick it up.
The video captures the moment when Krickovich knocks the teen on the ground, reportedly after Lacerra pepper-sprayed him. The teen is seen trying to cover his face, as Krickovich bangs his head to the ground while also landing two blows on his head with his other hand.
He wrote in his police report that he acted out of “fear” and because they were outnumbered by “the large group of students who were yelling, threatening us and surrounding us.
“I had to act quickly, fearing I would get struck or having a student potentially grab weapons off my belt,” he added.
It was the teen who was eventually arrested and charged for assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.
Social media erupted over the weekend with #JusticeForLucca and a renewed conversation about the continued policing of Black children.
Let me tell you what this 15 year old boy, Lucca, in the red tank top did. He’s a kind, sweet soul. He bent down to pick up the cell phone of another boy who was also wrongly arrested. The phone fell out during his arrest. He didn’t want it to get broken. When he stood up, the officer sprayed his face with pepper spray then proceeded to brutally assault him. These kids were gathered at a local McDonalds after school when police showed up. Lucca broke no laws. Was unarmed. Non-violent. Police then charged HIM with assault on an officer and resisting arrest. Neither, as you can see, are true. These are Broward County Sheriffs Christopher Krickovich & Sgt. Greg LaCerra. Now ask yourself why this unarmed nonviolent Black boy was brutally assaulted and the white men who shot up schools, churches, and movie theaters, slaughtering men, women, and children, were arrested without a single scratch. You know the answer. #justiceforluccaPosted by Shaun King on Saturday, April 20, 2019
Again. Another cowardly white police officer beating a black child.— Don Lemon's baby Afro (@GhostofGarvey) April 20, 2019
Sweet and docile,
Meek, humble, and kind:
Beware the day
They change their mind"
-Langston Hughes #justiceForLucca https://t.co/ePaloWpDcj
@browardsheriff why are you so quick to violate a private citizen’s rights and person, yet so slow to react to obvious violations committed by your staff? This is why police are losing respect and trust. #JusticeforLucca— Veteran Against Trump (@DYekcor) April 20, 2019
This is very hard to watch but it’s important that it’s seen. Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality of how many people of color are treated when interacting with the police. He’s only a child. #justiceforlucca https://t.co/ylpGGYS7xa— Danielle (@DFBennings) April 20, 2019
The incident took place in Broward County, the same county as the Parkland school shooting, which Twitter users mentioned to complain about the police response.
“And these same police [were] able to calmly arrest a 19 year old who just murdered 17 of classmates. He was taken into custody with out mark. A black teenager picks up a cell phone and gets his head slammed into the pavement,” wrote Twitter user Megan Lee.
So where are you @CNN and @MSNBC ? Same county as the Parkland mass shooting. White kid that murdered his peers got taken in without a scratch. This child did nothing. #justiceForLucca https://t.co/2zLFf2b275— rachel rodney (@RachelRodney4) April 20, 2019
And these same police where able to calmly arrest a 19 year old who just murdered 17 of classmates. He was taken into custody with out mark. A black teenager picks up a cell phone and gets his head slammed into the pavement. #justiceForLucca https://t.co/MbJRUy9HdV— Megan Lee (@messy_feminist) April 20, 2019
A petition calls for the deputy to be fired and the release of the teen. It had more than 11,000 signatures as Saturday afternoon.
Sheriff Gregory Tony issued a video on Friday vowing to take appropriate measures:
Sheriff Gregory Tony is committed to accountability in every case and at all times. We vow to conduct an open, transparent and thorough investigation into the incident that occurred April 18 in Tamarac. The deputy has been placed on restrictive administrative assignment. pic.twitter.com/9i4LPY4aGl— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) April 19, 2019
“I wanted to assure you that this incident is being conducted under a thorough investigation. We will look at this as a fact-finding measure to ensure that we hold folks accountable,” Tony said in the video. “Over the next few days, this may take some time for us to look thoroughly into. But understand that we will be transparent, and if folks need to be held accountable, it shall be done.”
Broward’s Sheriff Office was not immediately available for comment.
Correction: The petition has more than 11,000 signatures.
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque