A Florida sheriff’s office launched an investigation on Thursday into allegations of police brutality after cellphone video emerged showing deputies pepper-spray and slam to the ground a high school student. Broward Sheriff’s spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said that officials are looking into what happened earlier that day between deputies and a group of students from J.P. Taravella High School who had gathered after class at a nearby McDonald’s to watch a fight.
The video circulating on social media shows deputies, who appear to be white, amid a crowd of mostly African American teenagers. Some had reportedly been fighting. A deputy pushes a teen’s head as he rises from the ground. The teen appears to say something to the deputy, who sprays him in the face. The deputy throws the teen to the ground, where another officer twice slams his forehead and punches him. ‘What are you doing? He’s bleeding!’ one of the teenagers standing nearby is heard screaming at the deputies. The incident began unfolding shortly before 3pm when cops responded to reports of an impending fight in the parking lot outside the McDonald’s on North Pine Road in Tamarac, WSVN reported. A teen, who recorded the video and shared it on Instagram, said that students from the nearby high school had gathered to watch two boys fight, but the responding deputies intervened and proceeded to disperse the crowd.
The video begins with one deputy sitting on top of a teenage boy lying face down on the ground and restraining his hands behind his back. When a second boy in a red tank top and shorts approaches the first teen, as if to defend him, one of the cops pepper-sprays him in the face, then grabs and roughly pushes him to the ground. The boy has since been identified as a 15-year-old. Another deputy then sits on the boy’s back, grabs the back of his head with his hands, slams his forehead two or three times against the pavement and punches him in the side of the head with a closed fist.
A still photo taken by a bystander and shared on Instagram shows the boy in the red tank top sitting on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back and blood coating the right side of his face. The 15-year-old was transported to Coral Springs Medical Center for treatment, after which he and another teen were arrested in connection to the confrontation with the officers. Footage depicting the deputies’ actions targeting the high school students has sparked widespread condemnation.
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