South Florida authorities have launched an investigation after a video of a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy choke-slamming a Black man to the ground went viral on social media.
The man in the video, Khalil Pace, 22, said he met up with friends at the gym at Bonaventure Town Center Club in Weston, Florida, when an employee accused them of smoking marijuana in the bathroom and called the police.
Pace denied the allegations but admitted that he called the employee racist and told them to “shut the f—k up” when the deputies arrived. That’s when he said they first roughed him up, but that interaction was not captured on video. His friends started recording the incident outside of the gym.
“Why are you grabbing him like that?” Pace’s friends asked in unison.
“Why are you touching him?” one of Pace’s friends asks as Deputy Patrick Keegan grabs Pace by the arms and positions him on a seat wall.
“All he said is ‘shut the f—k up.’ Don’t touch him. Stop touching him,” the friend continues.
Pace sits on the wall and puts his hands up before the video cuts to another frame. Pace is still sitting on the wall when a friend walks up to him and tries to have a conversation. Keegan tells the man to back off.
“When everyone gets here, they all need to go. He’s a 15,” Keegan tells the other deputies. The number 15 in police code means Pace was being detained.
Pace’s friend tells him to call his mother.
“You don’t get to call anybody right now,” Keegan says as Pace attempts to use his cellphone.
“Yes, I do. Yes, I do,” Pace replies.
Keegan then approaches the man and first attempts to grab his phone before Pace tells his friend to take the phone instead. The deputy puts the man, still sitting, into a chokehold from the back and slams him on the ground.
“What the f—k is that?” Another of Pace’s friends yells. “Did you see what he did?”
Reports show Pace was charged with resisting arrest without violence and disorderly conduct. He told Miami New Times he felt “hopeless” in the moment and is “traumatized” by the incident.
“I’ve seen this happen so many times, and I honestly was in fear for my life,” Pace said.
Pace, a trained welder, said he and his friends had paid for access to the gym in the recreational facility centered around the 4,500 homes in the Bonaventure community in the tony city juxtaposed between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
An employee confronted them before the sheriff’s deputies arrived and asked them to leave.
“One of the [employees] was like, ‘Do you guys have a weed pen? You guys smell like smoke,'” Pace told the New Times. “We were like, ‘No, we just went to the restroom to pee.'”
A Broward County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said the deputies said the “group was loud, argumentative, and caused a disturbance.”
Pace said they complied when asked to leave. Still, he said the deputies grappled him up and separated him from his friends. The man believes it was in response to his comments to the employee, and he thought everything would blow over once they got outside. Instead, Pace said Keegan told him he would be arrested for trespassing.
Pace told WSVN 7 he believes Keegan’s handling of the situation was inappropriate and the deputy violated his civil rights.
“You feel helpless, you feel humiliated, you feel, like, powerless,” he said.
Keegan has been a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy since 2002, according to the New Times. The video of the violent arrest has been viewed millions of times on various social media platforms. The sheriff’s office said it is aware of the footage and is “already reviewing the arrest to determine if the force used was consistent with agency training and policy.”