FDLE seeks witnesses, videos after Liberty High School student slammed to ground

Osceola County sheriff’s Deputy Ethan Fournier under investigation

A criminal investigation has been opened after an Osceola County deputy was caught on video slamming a high school student to the ground.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Monday that is seeking witnesses of those who may have video that shows a school resource officer throwing a student to the ground last week at Liberty High School.

A video posted on social media shows Osceola County sheriff’s Deputy Ethan Fournier, a school resource officer at Liberty High School near Kissimmee, slamming Taylor Bracey, 16, while trying to restrain her.

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“We are asking anyone with information, or those who witnessed the use of force or who may have video, before, during or after the incident, please contact FDLE Orlando at 800-226-8521,” the FDLE said in a statement.

Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez said Fournier was trying to stop a “disruption at a school function,” and Bracey was not complying with his demands. Bracey went after another student and the situation escalated, according to the sheriff’s office.

In the video, Fournier can be seen placing Bracey in handcuffs while a second deputy stands over them. As the handcuffs are being placed, Bracey does not appear to move.

The family of a Liberty High School student in Osceola County is calling for the firing of a school deputy after he knocks the girl unconscious with a takedown maneuver.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said Bracey was medically treated at the school and is doing fine. The agency has been in contact with her family, which has retained attorney Benjamin Crump to represent them.

Lopez addressed the video in a news conference Wednesday, saying the agency decided to turn over the investigation as a criminal investigation to the FDLE.

“We will have zero, absolute zero tolerance of use of force by any of our deputies no matter where they are -- in the schools, in the streets,” he said.

Lopez said Fournier was hurt during the incident but is OK.

Fournier has been put on paid administrative leave pending the investigation with the FDLE and the State Attorney’s Office.

Crump and Bracey’s family held a news conference over the weekend.

Bracey’s mother, Jamesha Bracey, said she the deputy’s actions were inexcusable.

“My daughter is having headaches, blurry vision,” Jamesha Bracey said. “She’s having trouble remembering things. Having a hard time sleeping.”

“I’m not that much of a talker, but I just want to see justice for my daughter,” said Monquell Bracey, Taylor Bracey’s father.

Crump announced a list of demands the family is seeking:

  • Repeal Florida State Law requiring that at least one police officer or armed guardian be present in every school (most schools opt for police) and require statewide certification for SROs that include training in de-escalation, child psychology, anger management and conflict resolution.
  • Fire the Osceola Sheriff’s deputy involved in this assault and guarantee that he will not work as a school resource officer elsewhere in the future.
  • Any investigation into this incident should be led by a community task force, not law enforcement or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
  • Ensure that no suspensions are made and no charges are filed against any of the students involved in this incident, including those who recorded and shared video on social media.
  • Ensure that impacted students have continued access to education, including but not limited to, a right return to Liberty High School (if desired), and that none of the involved students are involuntarily transferred, but welcomed back to school.
  • Provide emotional, social and mental health support and resources to the students involved, including those who witnessed this assault, and their families.
  • Implement school-wide restorative justice at Liberty High School in order to create a nurturing school climate.
  • Require the protection and safety of Black and all oppressed youth who organize to protest against state violence and to protect themselves from all forms of violence.

Crump has previously represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jacob Blake,

About the Author:

Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on ClickOrlando.com, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.