Caught on surveillance video grabbing a 15-year-old girl by the throat before slamming her to the ground, a school resource officer was charged Tuesday with felony child abuse. During a recent press conference, Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony admitted that his deputy’s actions made “no sense” and the violent response “wasn’t necessary.”
On September 25, surveillance footage recorded Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Willard Miller standing in a room at Cross Creek School in Pompano Beach where he had been assigned as a school resource officer for the past two years. The school reportedly serves special needs kids between the ages of 5 and 22, who suffer from emotional and behavioral difficulties.
In the video, a 15-year-old student paces around the room as Deputy Willard stands with his back to her while appearing to type something into his cellphone. With her hands in her pockets, the girl briefly stands behind Willard before tapping the back of his leg with her foot.
Over a minute later, Willard suddenly walks toward the girl before gripping her by the throat and lifting her off her feet in order to violently slam her against the floor. In a blatant use of excessive force, the deputy flips the student onto her stomach and wrenches both of her arms behind her back while kneeling on her.
Picking the child up by her arms, Willard throws her against the wall of an alcove in the room before walking away.
According to the video, two women were in the room and witnessed the deputy’s assault against the girl. A third person immediately exited the room and closed the door as the deputy began to attack the student.
Broward County Public Schools said in a statement that it made the sheriff’s office aware immediately upon learning about the incident.
“We appreciate the quick actions of the Sheriff’s Office regarding this matter and continue to work with them regarding the situation,” said Kathy Koch, the district’s chief communications officer. “We are also investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident to ensure all proper District policies and procedures were followed.”
During a press conference on Tuesday, Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony stated, “The way the deputy responds, for whatever occurred, whatever type of verbal dialogue was going on, it makes no sense and it wasn’t necessary.”
He added, “When we have one individual that acts outside the confines of the oath that they take, it goes on every news channel. It spreads across the country and it impacts not only the agency, but everybody that carries a badge on their chest in this county, in this state and across the country.”
On October 28, Miller was suspended without pay. On Tuesday, he was arrested and charged with felony child abuse for assaulting the 15-year-old student.
When asked if the girl said anything to provoke Miller, Sheriff Tony responded, “Does it matter?”
“I could care less why she was in the room,” the sheriff told reporters on Tuesday. “Whatever type of verbal dialogue was going on, it makes no sense.”