Ex-BSO deputy testifies in his child abuse trial
Wednesday marked Day 2 in the child abuse trial of a former Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputy who is accused of grabbing a teenage girl by the neck and throwing her to the floor.
In the morning, the prosecution called a mental health counselor who works at Cross Creek School, a therapeutic day school in Pompano Beach, to testify.
“Defiant. Difficult rapport building, I would say,” the counselor said.
The victim’s mother, Rosemary Perricone, also took the stand and spoke about her daughter’s mood that year during school.
“She just hated the world,” Perricone said.
After lunch, court resumed, and the defense called on Willard Miller, the deputy in question, to testify.
He spoke about his background and the issues that were going on at the school where apparently multiple students had been caught using vape pens. He said the school was concerned someone was selling them on campus.
“It created a concern that I wasn’t sure it wasn’t a coincidence that there were so many students being found with vape pens. I felt like it’s probably someone who is providing or selling to the students,” Willard said.
Willard testified that the victim was defiant, questioned him and at one point kicked him in the back of the leg, which you can see on video.
He then said that he told the girl that if she was acting like this outside of school to any other police officer, she would’ve been arrested for a felony.
According to Willard, the teen was still defiant and didn’t care what he had to say.
“I know from past experiences that she was a spitter,” said Willard as he then demonstrated how the takedown was supposed to go down on that day.
He emphasized that his arm never went around her neck, but instead he wrapped his arm around her collarbone.
Willard has yet to be cross examined by the state and the trial will resume Thursday morning.
The victim, who is now 17, testified Tuesday about the incident that occurred in September 2019 when she was 15.
“I just gently tapped [the deputy] … I think I was scared and a little bit angry,” the victim said. “He waited, and then he reacted … He grabbed me by the neck … He slammed me.”
The girl said another student gave her a vape pen and she got caught using it to smoke a substance with a fruity flavor.
The girl was placed in a detention classroom with enclosed “timeout” rooms when the incident occurred.
Miller’s attorney, Jeremy Kroll, acknowledged that Miller purposely turned off his body-worn camera, but claimed Miller did so to gain the student’s trust while questioning her about the vape pen.
The state argued that Miller used excessive force.
“The defendant had a duty as an SRO at a school to handle these students with much more care, concern and love than he did. He had no business touching her,” prosecutor Lindsay Carrier said.
Miller’s attorney argued that the teen was combative.
“Cussed out staff members, told staff members, ‘You are either going to have to Baker Act or arrest me, I’ll f****ing kick you again, I don’t f***ing care,’” Kroll said.
Miller was fired by Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony over the incident.