By Kevin Deutsch
A Florida appeals court has rejected a bid by former Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Christopher Krickovich to win immunity from criminal prosecution, paving the way for a trial in his caught-on-video beating of a Tamarac teenager, court records show.
Krickovich, charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery on a juvenile, had argued he had both “Stand Your Ground” immunity under state law and immunity from prosecution under a state statute that justifies an officer’s use of force to disperse an unlawful assembly.
The ruling against Krickovich follows an October 2020 decision by Broward County Judge Jill K. Levy that found a second deputy involved in the incident, BSO Sgt. Gregory LaCerra did have Stand Your Ground protection when he pepper-sprayed Delucca Rolle, 15, in the parking lot of Tamarac Town Center in April 2019.
The battery charges against LaCerra were dropped as a result, but he still faces a charge of falsifying records on an official report chronicling the incident, as does Krickovich.
Both he and Krickovich have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
LaCerra and Krickovich, along with witnesses, have described a chaotic atmosphere in the area on the day of the incident and in the months before, including fights among large groups of J.P. Taravella High School students.
Both men have said that repeated fights in Tamarac Town Center—fights in which Rolle was not implicated—made them feel threatened.
Krickovich, who was caught on video punching Rolle and slamming his head into the pavement, was fired by Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony in 2019.
A BSO internal affairs review had earlier recommended Krickovich be exonerated despite “evidence showing a clear violation of BSO’s use of force policy,” the agency said in a press release at the time.
In the appeals court’s Feb. 9 decision, the judges said Krickovich’s actions did not qualify him for legal immunity.
“Petitioner complains that because the trial court granted immunity to another officer, he was entitled to similar treatment,” wrote Judge Robert Gross, whose opinion was joined by Judges Melanie May and Jeffrey Kuntz. “However, the conduct of the officers was not the same. [LaCerra] merely pushed the juvenile to the ground. The juvenile was already face down on the ground when [Krickovich] positioned himself over him and hit the juvenile’s face once into the pavement. [Krickovich] had the juvenile pinned down, holding his head and neck with both hands before he released his right hand and punched him once in the head.”
“The juvenile may have tensed his body and lifted his face from the pavement, but the video from [Krickovich’s] body camera does not show the juvenile actively resisting arrest.”
The court’s decision upholds the 2020 ruling by Levy, which found that Krickovich, but not LaCerra, qualified for immunity.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.