A Florida jury on Thursday found a former sheriff’s deputy not guilty in an incident in which he slammed a 15-year-old girl to the ground in 2019, local media reported.
Willard Miller, 41, called the jury’s not guilty verdict on one count of child abuse a vindication.
“It’s been a long three years, you know — seeing all the things that was said about me, knowing that it’s not true,” Miller said, according to video from NBC Miami. “… But now I’m able to be vindicated, and everybody knows the truth.”
Miller, a former Broward County sheriff’s deputy, was charged with felony child abuse following the Sept. 25, 2019, incident at Pompano Beach school.
Video released by the sheriff’s department in 2019 appeared to show Miller, a school resource officer, grab the girl by the neck area and throw her to the ground.
Miller testified that the girl had kicked his leg from behind, and the defense argued that he did not intend for the hard fall but the child’s leg got caught in a chair, NBC Miami reported.
Prosecutors called it unjustified and said a minute had passed from when the child made contact with his leg and Miller’s actions, according to the station.
Miller was fired from the sheriff’s office in August. Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement then that there had been delays in internal affairs due to Covid-19 restrictions. Tony at the time cited what he called Miller’s “egregious lack of control” in announcing the firing.