WATCH LIVE: Teenage girl testifies during ex-deputy’s child abuse trial

The child abuse trial of Willard Miller, a former Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy, began on Tuesday in Broward County court.

BSO fired Miller over his Sept. 25, 2019 use of force on a student with special needs at Cross Creek School, a therapeutic day school in Pompano Beach. Prosecutors later charged him with child abuse without great bodily harm.

The victim, who is now 15 years old, was the prosecution’s second witness. She said she was using a vape pen to smoke a substance that tasted like coconut or strawberry while at school. She said another student at the school gave her the vape pen.

“I just gently tapped [the deputy] … I think I was scared and a little bit angry,” the victim said adding, “He waited, and then he reacted … He grabbed me by the neck … He slammed me.”

Raymond Higgins, the school’s security specialist, was the prosecution’s first witness. He said he was in his office when he saw the deputy’s use of force on a surveillance camera feed.

“I saw the deputy when he grabbed [the student] and he took her to the ground,” Higgins said, adding he reported the incident to the school’s principal.

Raymond Higgins, a Broward County Public Schools security specialist, testified on Tuesday in court.

Attorney Jeremy Kroll, who is representing Miller, and Assistant State Attorney Lindsay Carrier both agreed Miller purposely turned off his bodyworn camera. Kroll said Miller did so to gain the student’s trust while questioning her about the vape pen.

Kroll said Miller was using his phone to figure out how to open the vape pen for fear she was using an illegal substance. Kroll said she kicked Miller and threatened to grab his gun. The girl denied it.

After the BSO internal affairs investigation, Sheriff Gregory Tony condemned Miller’s actions as “deplorable.” Deputies found Miller didn’t issue a written report to explain his use of force. Four months before the incident Miller had undergone a use of force training, records show.

“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,” Tony later said.

Miller is facing a charge of child abuse without great bodily harm. Broward Circuit Judge Daniel A. Casey is presiding over the case.

Noon report

Attorneys presented their opening statements in the child abuse case against Willard Miller, a former Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy, on Tuesday in Broward County court. Read More

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