Crime

Black teen whose arrest sparked outrage arrested again. Attorney calls it ‘targeting.’

Video shows Broward deputies pepper-spraying, punching teen

Video posted on social media shows Broward sheriff's deputies pepper-spraying and punching a teen during a confrontation near J.P. Taravella High.
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Video posted on social media shows Broward sheriff's deputies pepper-spraying and punching a teen during a confrontation near J.P. Taravella High.

An unarmed teen whose violent arrest earlier this year sparked community anger in Broward County, was arrested early Saturday morning while walking with a friend a few miles from his home.

The arrest on loitering and prowling charges is the third time Delucca Rolle, 15, has been arrested since April. His attorney called the string of arrests questionable.

The latest came on Saturday when Delucca and a friend “alarmed” residents, according to Margate police officer Neil Sohn, because they were walking in a neighborhood a couple of miles from their homes before dawn while wearing shorts and black hoodies. Sohn claimed the teens ducked behind a palm tree as he approached them before coming out to meet him on the roadway.

Then, Sohn said in the arrest report, Delucca gave the officer his name and age but refused to provide any more information.

Delucca’s attorney, Sue-Anne Robinson, called Delucca’s arrest a clear case of “targeting” by police for his family’s decision to challenge his first arrest in April. That decision led to embarrassing national headlines directed at the Broward Sheriff’s Office and charges being filed against three of its deputies by the Broward County State Attorney’s Office.

“The whole stopping people for walking while black is old,” said Robinson. “They didn’t have any burglary tools on them. They were actually walking in their neighborhood. He was walking with a friend in a neighborhood and police stopped them and asked for their names.”

Sohn said he spotted Delucca and a friend on West Palm Drive just before 4 a.m. and that Rolle walked behind a palm tree as the officer approached, then walked back out to the street. In his report, Sohn said “the defendant’s demeanor and actions during our encounter created alarm and fear for other persons or property in the area.”

The officer doesn’t name or say if there were any witnesses in the report. Sohn said before he took Delucca into custody, the teen offered his name and age but refused to answer any other questions, which is within his rights.

Delucca’s April 18 arrest at a McDonald’s parking lot not far from P.J. Taravella High School, ignited a firestorm that ricocheted through social media platforms after NBA Superstar Lebron James, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Miami Dolphins wideout Kenny Stills came to the teen’s defense.

Delucca and a group of students had gathered in the McDonald’s parking lot in preparation for a fight, when BSO deputies showed up and intervened. Cellphone video taken by another student caught the moment when Delucca reached down to pick up a fallen cellphone and was grabbed by a deputy, pepper-sprayed, then thrown to the ground, his head smashed into the pavement several times.

The officers claimed they were reacting to Delucca making a threatening movement toward them. The video does not back up that accusation. Delucca was arrested and charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer and obstruction without violence. Delucca’s family eventually hired renowned civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and the charges were dropped.

Then in July, after several press conferences in which Crump demanded action against the officers who originally arrested Delucca, three of them were charged with crimes by the state attorney and all were suspended without pay by Sheriff Gregory Tony.

Sgt. Gregory LaCerra, 51, was charged with two counts of battery for pepper-spraying Delucca and throwing him down, a single count of falsifying records and another count of conspiracy to falsify records. Chistopher Krickovich, 29, was charged with two counts of battery for slamming Rolle’s face to the pavement and punching him in the head. Krickovich was also charged with two counts of falsifying records and a single count of conspiracy to falsify records. And Deputy Ralph Mackey is facing one count of falsifying records and another count of conspiracy to falsify records.

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