- Video went viral over the weekend showing two Florida sheriff’s deputies pepper-spraying a teenager, tackling him to the ground, slamming his head against the concrete, and punching him.
- Social media users, celebrities, and Broward County’s Mayor were outraged by the incident, calling for an investigation, firings, and potential prosecution of the deputies involved.
A Florida police deputy has been placed on restrictive duty after cellphone video went viral showing him and another officer using excessive force on a black teenager.
The incident happened Thursday afternoon near J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs, Florida. Social media users shared clips of the incident online over the weekend using #justiceforlucca.
The footage shows two Broward County sheriff’s deputies jumping on a teen to hold him down. One officer slams his head against the pavement and punches him while another teen in handcuffs lays nearby.
One post that gathered over 8 million views was shared on Twitter by activist and Church of God in Christ Bishop Talbert Swan. In the post, Swan wrote that the teen, identified only as Lucca, “picked up a cell phone that fell out of the pocket of a Black boy who was being arrested.”
“In response @browardsheriff officers Christopher Krickovich & Greg LaCerra pepper sprayed, brutally beat, and arrested him,” the post continued.
In another angle of the incident, one deputy is seen pepper-spraying Lucca in the face before slamming him to the ground.
Here’s another angle that shows @browardsheriff’s deputy pepper spraying unarmed Black boy, Lucca, who posed no threat. He then slammed his head into the concrete, arrested him & charged him with ASSAULTING the cops.— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) April 20, 2019
This is brutality.#JusticeForLucca pic.twitter.com/SYMjfdkNKZ
Deputy Says Teen Had “Aggressive Stance”
In an arrest report, officer Christopher Krickovich said that he and his partner Sgt. Greg LaCerra responded to a call from a McDonald’s in Tamarac at 3 p.m. on Thursday. They were called to the scene by employees who reported a large group of teenagers gathering for a fight outside the restaurant.
Krickovich said the McDonald’s is a popular after-school gathering place for students from the school nearby, which is also known for frequent fights. In fact, a fight at the location occurred just a day before and caused damage to a bystander’s car.
According to the arrest report, Krickovich and LaCerra arrived and ordered the crowd of teens to disperse. During this time, they identified one of the perpetrators from Wednesday’s fight who had been warned not to trespass in the area again and took him into custody.
“While I was dealing with the male on the ground, I observed his phone slide to the right of me and then behind me. I observed a male wearing a red tank top reach down and attempt to grab the male student’s phone,” Krickovich wrote.
He went on to say that LaCerra ordered the teen to stay back, but he “took an aggressive stance” toward the officer and “bladed his body and began clenching his fists.”
LaCerra then pepper-sprayed the teen in the face and forced him to the ground, Krickovich wrote. The affidavit goes on to say that the officers feared for their safety during the arrests because they were surrounded by around 200 students.
Krickovich said he worried someone would try to grab one of the weapons off his belt or vest after he had pushed the boy to the ground.
“At one point, his left arm was free and next to him, while he placed his arm under his face,” Krickovich said. “I struck the male in the right side of his head with a closed fist as a distractionary technique to free his right hand.”
“This technique was successful and I was able to place him into handcuffs without further incident.”
The video sparked massive outrage, with many calling this another instance of police brutality against a black teen.
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr called the incident “demoralizing,” while NBA star LeBron James said, “to think that could be my sons.”
Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen also released a statement calling the incident “outrageous and unacceptable.” He suggested that the deputy who initially made contact with the teen be fired and potentially prosecuted.
Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement Friday that the department would conduct a “thorough investigation” into the matter. He added that Deputy Christopher Krickovich had been placed on restrictive administrative duty. The status of LaCerra is unclear.
In a pre-scheduled meeting with black leaders Saturday, Tony said that he was taking the investigation into the incident seriously. However, he also emphasized the importance of following the appropriate procedures.
“There’s been a large cry of ‘just go out and fire them and get rid of them,’ and all these other things. Folks it don’t work that way. You all understand that. There has to be an investigative process and due process elements and so it’s going to be done the right way. “
The police report indicated that the teen at the center of the viral video didn’t suffer any serious injuries. However, the 15-year-old appeared in court Friday morning, where he was formally charged with assault, resisting arrest, and trespassing.
See what others are saying:(CBS Miami) (Sun-Sentinel) (Complex)
Mother and Boyfriend Charged After Abandoning 3 Children in Apartment With Sibling’s Remains
Authorities said the malnourished children had been living in the unit without their parents for months.
Abandoned Children Discovered in Houston
Police in Texas arrested a mother and her boyfriend on Tuesday after finding the woman’s three children abandoned in an apartment unit with the remains of their sibling.
Authorities found the 7-, 10-, and 15-year-old boys on Sunday when the teen called police to report that his brother had been dead for a year and that his body was in the unit.
When authorities arrived at the scene, they found the children living in “deplorable conditions.” Police also found the skeletal remains of an 8-year-old, who they emphasized had been decomposing for an extended period of time.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the boys were fending for each other, with the eldest doing his best to care for the younger ones. According to the teen, his parents hadn’t been living in the apartment with them for months.
Gonzales called it one of the most shocking cases he had ever seen in all his years in law enforcement, and many are now asking how these kids could have been suffering for so long without anyone ever noticing.
Signs That Went Unnoticed
The Daily Beast reported that the kids hadn’t been attending school since May 2020, claiming that the school even conducted an unsuccessful home visit in September of that year.
On top of that, the children had been without power for several weeks, with one neighbor telling local reporters that the teen would often charge his phone at her place.
Another neighbor, Erica Chapman, said she had once found the teen sleeping on a playground slide, so she gave him some food and drinks.
“I asked him if he was hungry. He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I brought him out some food and some drinks,” Chapman told KHOU.
She said he “wouldn’t talk about his parents,” and she didn’t push because she wanted him to feel safe coming to her if he needed food. Chapman added that she would drop off food at the apartment sometimes but said it was hard to tell what was going on inside.
Police also described a foul odor coming from the unit, which a different neighbor said she complained to management about more than once. That woman claimed the smell was so vile, she could not turn on her air conditioning.
Dianne Davis, who lived in the complex for two years, told The Houston Chronicle that the building manager performs regular inspections on the units, with the most recent one happening last week.
“How come they couldn’t detect this?” Davis told the paper. “How could that not have been found?”
Mother and Boyfriend Face Charges
According to Child Protective Services (CPS), the agency does have a history with the family, but there was no active investigation at the time the kids were discovered.
After they were found, the boys were treated at a hospital and placed with CPS while the agency seeks emergency custody of them.
At the hospital, doctors discovered fractures in the 7-year-old face and said two of the three boys were malnourished. Meanwhile, the medical examiner’s office said the deceased child suffered multiple blunt force injuries and ruled his death a homicide.
Police located the mother, 35-year-old Gloria Williams, and her boyfriend, 31-year-old Brian Coulter, on Sunday. They were interviewed and initially released without charges.
ABC13 reported that the teen texted his mother, who lived just 15 minutes, before calling the police.
On Tuesday, the couple was finally arrested while allegedly reading articles about themselves at a library. Williams, faces multiple charges, including injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence involving a human corpse.
Meanwhile, Coulter was charged with murder over the death of the child, though both he and Williams are expected to face more charges as investigators continue to unpack the details of this case.
See what others are saying: (The Houston Chronicle) (The Daily Beast) (The Washington Post)
Man Spent COVID Relief Loan on $58,000 Pokemon Card, Feds Say
The man is facing a wire fraud charge, which carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
COVID Relief Funds Used on Pokemon Card
Authorities have accused a man in Georgia of misusing COVID-19 relief funds, claiming that he spent $57,789 on a single Pokemon card.
Prosecutors said Vinath Oudomsine made false statements about the gross revenue his business earns and the number of workers he employs when he applied for aid authorized under the CARES Act.
On his July 2020 application, Oudomsine allegedly claimed he had 10 employees and 12-month gross revenues of $235,000.
The following month, he was given about $85,000 from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which means he spent nearly all of the money on the rare card.
Authorities have given few details about the specific card purchased, though they have said Oudomsine was charged with wire fraud and is expected to appear in court on Thursday.
The charge carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
Misuse of COVID Relief Funds
Oudomsine is far from the first person to face charges for fraud related to small business loans issued amid the pandemic. Others who received relief funds have been accused of spending the money on Lamborghinis, nights at strip clubs, and even an alpaca farm, among other purchases.
In fact, the first person to be charged with fraudulently seeking a pandemic relief loan was recently sentenced to 56 months in prison following a nationwide search after the man faked his own death.
According to The Washington Post, a federal watchdog said this month that the SBA overpaid $4.5 billion in grants to self-employed people and that “no system of controls was in place to flag applications with flawed or illogical information.”
On top of that, the SBA inspector general determined earlier this year that the agency rushed to send out billions of dollars in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) “at the expense of controls” that could have blocked inappropriate aid.
In a statement on Sunday, the agency said that under the Biden administration, it has worked with Congress and the inspector general to add antifraud measures. Meanwhile, defenders of pandemic relief programs have argued that flagged loans and grants represent only a small fraction of the distributed aid that has been critical to small businesses and their pandemic recovery.
See what others are saying: (NPR)(USA Today)(The Washington Post)
FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses
The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.
New FDA Authorization
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.
The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.
Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.
Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.
Hazy Recommendations, For Now
Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.
The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.
In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.
However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.
An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.
Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.