FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida deputy who worked at a school for children with emotional and behavioral problems was fired Wednesday, nearly two years after a video showed him slamming a female student to the ground after she tapped his knee with her foot.
Willard Miller, 40, was previously suspended without pay after he was charged in November 2019 with felony child abuse without great bodily harm. Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement that internal affairs investigations were delayed in 2020 because of numerous executive orders issued by the governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but those orders have since been rescinded.
“Former Deputy Willard Miller is terminated from employment with the Broward Sheriff’s Office for his egregious lack of control, discipline and numerous policy violations,” Tony said. “His action and behavior are not reflective of the great work and self-discipline frequently displayed by the overwhelming majority of my deputies.”
School security video shows Miller standing and texting inside an office at Cross Creek School in September 2019 when the 15-year-old walks behind him and uses her left foot to push the back of his right knee, causing it to buckle. She walks away.
In the video, which does not include audio, Miller can be seen speaking to the girl for just over a minute from about 10 feet (3 meters) away while two women watch. He then suddenly walks toward the girl, grabs her throat and throws her to the ground. He flips her onto her stomach, puts a knee against her back and pulls her arms behind her. He then forcibly lifts her up using her pinned arms and throws her out of the room, where an investigator’s report says she slammed against a wall.
Miller is still awaiting trial on the child abuse charge. His attorney didn’t immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.