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Osceola deputy under criminal investigation after video shows him slamming student to the ground

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is handling the case.
Police lights generic, file photo.

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has opened a criminal investigation after a now-viral video appeared to show a Florida deputy slam a female student to the ground.

The clip, which has been watched thousands of times, seems to capture the deputy throwing the girl onto a concrete walkway. She appears to be motionless while he puts her into handcuffs, and a second deputy hovers nearby.

"We will have zero, absolute zero tolerance of use of force by any of our deputies," Osceola County Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez said during a press conference Wednesday.

Authorities have identified the deputy as Ethan Fournier, a school resource officer at Liberty High School.

According to Lopez, Deputy Fournier had responded to a disruption on campus, and the student wasn't complying with his instructions. That student, the sheriff's office says, went after another student -- which escalated the situation.

But, somewhere during that timeframe, the widely-circulated video appears to show the deputy throwing the girl to the ground. And, that is the moment that has led to a criminal investigation.

Lopez said he would not comment on the video. But, he did say the teen and deputy are both OK, and the girl's parents have been contacted.

Fournier was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. He has been with the sheriff's office for a decade and has no history of misconduct, according to the agency. 

Lopez said the FDLE will work with the state attorney's office to ensure an independent investigation of the deputy's conduct. 

In the meantime, Lopez said he would not tolerate death threats against law enforcement. He says Fournier's life has been threatened since the video emerged.

"I'll tell you we have a very good intel unit and if you're going to start threatening my sheriffs until we can do a thorough investigation we're going to come after you too," Lopez said.

The attorney for the teen's family, Ben Crump has called for the deputy to be fired and charged with aggravated assault, according to CBS News.

"We demand that this officer be terminated because this is unacceptable that you can do this to our children and not be held accountable," Attorney Ben Crump told the national outlet. "And we also want him to be charged with aggravated assault and battery on a child because Taylor was a child, he was a grown man."

 Jamesha Bracey, the teen's mother, also tells CBS that her daughter is experiencing headaches, blurry vision, memory loss, and fatigue following the incident.

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