Broward County, FL – Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony announced on Wednesday that the former school resource officer charged with felony child abuse for his takedown of a 15-year-old girl has been fired by the sheriff’s department.
The incident occurred on Sept. 25, 2019 inside an office at Cross Creek School, a school for children with behavioral and emotional problems, the Associated Press reported.
Surveillance video from the school office showed Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Willard Miller standing and texting on his phone with his back to a female student.
There were two other people seated nearby.
The female student approached Deputy Miller from behind and kicked him in the back of knee, causing his leg to buckle slightly, the video showed.
The video showed that the deputy did not initially react to the girl in an aggressive manner.
Instead, he stayed where he was as the student proceeded to pace back and forth on the other side of the room.
There is no audio, but in the video, it appeared Deputy Miller was talking to the girl
All of a sudden, the deputy lunged across the room and grabbed the girl, who had both hands in her pockets, and threw her to the ground, the video showed.
The student’s head appeared to slam on the hard floor as she hit the ground.
Then the video showed Deputy Miller jumped on top of her and began struggling for control of her hands.
Once the deputy had both hands in his control, he flipped her over onto her stomach, put a knee in her back, and pulled her arms behind her, the video showed.
Then he pulled her up off the ground by her arms, and tossed her through the threshold of another room before the video ended.
Deputy Miller was charged on Nov. 5, 2019 with felony child abuse without great bodily harm in connection with the incident, the Associated Press reported.
Sheriff Tony immediately suspended Deputy Miller without pay pending completion of the internal investigative and disciplinary process.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office’s (BSO) internal affairs investigation showed Deputy Miller had completed use of force training only four months before the incident, WPLG reported.
He had also taken a week-long training course for school resource officers, according to the investigation.
The report on the investigation said that Deputy Miller turned off his bodycam before he took the 15 year old to the ground, WPLG reported.
It also said that the deputy failed to do a use-of-force report for the incident afterwards as was required by policy, according to internal affairs.
On Aug. 11, almost two years after the incident occurred, Sheriff Tony announced that Deputy Miller had been terminated by the sheriff’s department “effective immediately,” WPLG reported.
He said it didn’t matter what happened that led Deputy Miller to take the actions he did.
“Does it matter what was said on her side or his side, to respond physically to someone who we know suffers from some form of mental illness?” Sheriff Tony said. “You’re a law enforcement officer responsible for safeguarding that individual, and to lose all discipline and temperament where you could have possibly killed a child is unacceptable.”
He called the former deputy’s actions “egregious,” especially in light of the fact that Deputy Miller worked at a school for children with emotional and behavioral problems, WPLG reported.
The sheriff said that Deputy Miller’s actions were not a reflection of what the sheriff’s department stands for.
“There was no justifiable cause to respond in that matter as a professional law enforcement officer with years of experience, with a multitude of training and defensive tactics, and the ability to use a lesser level of any type of force or even communication that could’ve deescalated the situation from happening,” Sheriff Tony said.
You can see video from the incident below: