BY SUSANNAH BRYAN
FORT LAUDERDALE – A week after an unarmed Black teen was forcefully arrested by White deputies, nationally renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump and NAACP leaders are calling for criminal charges to be filed against the cops.
Fifteen-year-old Delucca “Lucca” Rolle was pepper-sprayed in the face and slammed to the ground outside a McDonald’s in Tamarac after school let out on April 18 at J.P. Taravella High. One deputy punched Rolle and bashed his face into the pavement, leaving with him with a fractured nose.
The incident, captured on a cellphone recording that’s drawn millions of views on social media, has sparked national outrage amid claims of police brutality.
“That video shows who really committed the crime that day,” Crump said Thursday during a news conference at the Broward Public Defender’s Office.
Rolle initially faced criminal charges, including assault of an officer, resisting arrest and trespassing.
But on Tuesday, state prosecutors said they were not filing charges against Rolle. The actions of the deputies are now under investigation by the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
The teen’s mom, Clintina Rolle, said she was heartbroken over the way her son was treated.
“Thank God that my son is alive, that they didn’t call to tell me he was dead,” she told reporters Thursday before breaking down into tears.
Her son, who did not attend the news conference, has not wanted to talk about what happened that day, she said.
On Tuesday, the Broward Sheriff’s Office suspended two of the deputies involved in the incident: Deputy Christopher Krickovich and Sgt. Greg LaCerra. The Sheriff’s Office has not released the name of a third deputy seen in the video.
Sheriff Gregory Tony has promised a thorough investigation.
“They do not need to have a gun and a badge if they’re going to treat our children like this,” Crump said. “The video tells the whole story. If not for that video, we have no doubt he would have been convicted of a crime based on the word of the police alone.”
Deputies arrested another teen that day, before turning their attention to Rolle.
Students at the scene say Rolle got caught in the melee after walking over to pick up a phone dropped by the teen during his arrest.
Dr. Rosalind Osgood, a Broward School Board member, said she was outraged by the way deputies handled last week’s incident.
On Thursday, she apologized to Rolle’s mother for what happened to her son. And she vowed that this latest incident of police brutality was not going to be swept under the rug.
“We are going to make sure justice is done for Delucca Rolle,” she said. “And we are going to make sure this does not happen to another child in Broward County.”
Marsha Ellison, president of the Fort Lauderdale chapter of the NAACP, referred to the deputies’ suspension as a “two-week vacation.”
On Thursday, she called for their termination.
How the case gets resolved and whether the deputies are held accountable for their actions will send a message to youth across the nation, Crump said.
“The children are watching,” he said. “The whole world is watching.”