The Osceola County, Florida school resource officer who was seen on video slamming a Black 16-year-old student on the concrete earlier this year will not be charged in the incident.
In a 20-minute press conference on Tuesday, Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell said the incident was provoked by the two teens who were approaching each other to fight when the deputy stepped in.
According to Worrell, Deputy Ethan Fournier’s “controlled takedown” of the teen, performed after she freed her arm from his grasp, was part of his training and “did not violate any laws in the State of Florida.”
“After a thorough review of the evidence, and the applicable law in this matter (the independent review) has concluded that officer Fournier’s use of force did not violate any laws of the state of Florida,” Worrell said. “As such, there will be no criminal charges filed in this matter.”
A graphic video of the incident that circulated online earlier this year, shows Deputy Fournier of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office slamming Liberty High School student Taylor Bracey to the ground. With her arms held behind her back by the deputy, Bracey’s head bangs hard against the floor as she is slammed. As the 16-year-old lay seemingly unconscious on the floor, Deputy Fournier then handcuffs her.
The sheriff’s office said Fournier was trying to stop Bracey from fighting another student in the hallway. However, the teen’s mother, Jamesha Bracey, says it was a verbal not physical altercation between her daughter and another student.
Following the encounter with Deputy Fournier, Bracey’s mother said her child was “traumatized” and suffered from memory loss and headaches.
Fournier was placed on paid leave while the incident was investigated by the Department of Florida Law Enforcement.
In response to the State Attorney’s decision, the family’s attorneys released the following statement:
“The facts of this case are laid out for everyone to see in that disturbing video. A Black teenager was violently body-slammed to the ground, knocked unconscious, and handcuffed at her own school by Deputy Fournier,” the statement said. “That kind of force is aggressive, unacceptable, and not at all what it looks like to de-escalate a situation between high school girls. Taylor is still feeling the repercussions from Fournier’s actions and likely will for the rest of her life.”
The statement continued: “This disgusting incident certainly sends a message to our young people of color – police officers should not be trusted, and ‘protect and serve’ is nothing more than a meaningless slogan. While the state attorney has failed to get justice for Taylor, we won’t stop until we do.”