At a virtual pretrial hearing last week, one of the Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies charged for his role in the violent 2019 arrest of a Black teenager in a Miami suburb said he was assaulted by the boy and asked that the charges against him be dropped under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
Sgt. Gregory LaCerra, who faces misdemeanor charges alongside former deputy Christopher Krickovich in the April 2019 arrest of then-15-year-old Delucca Rolle, characterized the teen as the aggressor before a Broward County Judge on Friday, Sept. 25. LaCerra and Krickovich have asked the charges they face to be dismissed, claiming they acted in self-defense.
LaCerra and Krickovich were on the scene of a McDonald’s parking lot in Tamarac, Florida, responding to a report about a fight when Rolle’s friend Gary Dieureslil was being arrested on charges of trespassing.
When Dieureslil’s phone fell to the ground, Rolle tried to reach over and pick it up. Bystander footage shows LaCerra shoving Rolle away from the phone. The officer also pepper-sprayed the teen.
After Rolle fell to the ground, Krickovich and another officer jumped on top of him. Krickovich punched Rolle in the head and slammed his face against the ground until he was bleeding.
“What are you doing?! He’s bleeding!” someone from the crowd cried out.
LaCerra is on restricted duty, and Krickovich has been fired.
During a week-long virtual pre-trial hearing, LaCerra described the encounter as a “scary moment.”
“We were being surrounded,” LaCerra said to Judge Jill K. Levy. “The environment was hostile toward law enforcement officers. This was a scary moment in my career.”
LaCerra said that after Rolle was pushed, the young man stood up and assumed a “pre-attack posture,” so he sprayed the teen with pepper-spray.
“He pepper-sprayed me. I walked away. He slammed me to the floor and arrested me,” Rolle testified. The teen also said he was trying to regain his balance when he stood after he was pushed. Rolle was arrested, but the charges were later dropped. He was initially charged with trespassing, resisting arrest without violence, and assault on an officer. He was left with a fractured nose and head injuries.
“This was an assault,” said LaCerra. Under Florida law, an assault is a threat of violence, whether or not it is expressed in words.
Krickovich, the deputy who punched Rolle and slammed his head into the ground, said he did not intend to push 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 Krickovich.
LaCerra is being represented by Eric Schwartzreich, the first Florida attorney to successfully use the “stand your ground” law to defend an officer accused of using excessive force.
In addition to battery charges, both officers have been charged with conspiracy to falsify records. The future of the case likely hinges on the judge’s interpretation of the events captured on video.