A South Florida school resource deputy has been charged with child abuse after surveillance footage showed him choke-slamming a 15-year-old girl.
Willard Miller, a Broward County sheriff’s deputy working at Cross Creek School in Pompano Beach, was arrested Tuesday on a felony charge of child abuse without great bodily harm, Sheriff Gregory Tony said. Tony released shocking video from the Sept. 25 incident, which shows the deputy grab the teen by the neck before throwing her to the ground.
Miller was in a classroom with the student and two other women when the incident unfolded. In the audio-less clip, the white teen walks up behind Miller and kicks him in the back of the knee, causing it to buckle.
The two briefly exchange words from across the room, the video shows. Moments later, Miller is seen charging at the teenager, lifting her by her neck and slamming her to the floor.
With a hand still around her neck, the deputy then forces the student on to her stomach before pinning her arms behind her back .
“The way the deputy responds, for whatever occurred, whatever type of verbal dialogue was going on, it makes no sense and it wasn’t necessary,” Tony said.
Miller, 38, has been with the BSO since 2016 and was assigned to the school, which deals with students with behavioral issues, February 2018, NBC 6 Miami reported. He remains suspended without pay pending an investigation.
While the deputy’s suspension has been applauded by some, others have pointed to examples of white officers committing the same level of abuse with little punishment. Late last month, a school resource officer in New Mexico was filmed manhandling an 11-year-old Black girl, tussling with the child near the front entrance of the school.
Farmington officer Zachary Christensen was found to have violated the department’s use-of-force policies, however, the county district attorney’s office declined to file charges.
In a similar incident out of South Carolina, a Richland County officer seen yanking an African-American teen out of her chair, flipping her and then dragging her from the classroom also escaped criminal charges. Despite video evidence of the October 2015 assault, prosecutors said there wasn’t “sufficient probable cause” to charge the officer.
“It’s so funny how people have so much sympathy for this little white girl, but let it had been a little black girl they would be trying to find any and everything to blame her for what happen,” an online user said of the Cross Creek incident.
“So quick to fire a black officer (Willard Miller) for abusing a white child but not so quick to do that with a white officer to a black child,” another chimed in. “Do you see how the system keeps on working. GTHOH (deserved it but forget this racist system)”
Another opined that, “justice was mighty swift on behalf of this young white girl, wasn’t it? Ain’t that somethin…”
Miller appeared in court Tuesday, where his bond was set at $5,000.