What was meant to be a day of fishing for four teens quickly turned into something far different. The teens say they were chased by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper. They say he beat one of them, sending him to the hospital.
Fifteen-year-old Willie Byrd, Jr. says Thursday afternoon he and his three friends were out fishing off Highway 20. He says on their way back home a Florida Highway Patrolman followed them for miles. When they turned on to Williams Road the trooper started chasing them. The chase ended at Byrd's home.
Willie Byrd, Jr. says, "He came to the car and said ‘I will kill you black nigger’, then he punched me in my jaw, told me to put my hand up then he put the gun to my face and got the jumper cables out of the back seat and told he would skin my black “a” and he snatched me out the back and threw me on the trunk."
Byrd's family and neighbors say they watched in horror, fearing the worst. Byrd was transported to Quincy Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries.
Lucille Allen, who witnessed the incident, says, "When the boy got out of the car, he said get out with the car and everybody got out. He had his hand up. What reason he picked that boy specifically, I don't know. ‘I would blow your damn brains out’, those were his exact words. He said it and then he took his fist and hit him.
Florida Highway Patrol officials say those allegations are unfounded.
LT John Bagnardi, Florida Highway Patrol spokesman, says, "He said he was hit in the shoulder and the head and that's when the trooper was trying to grab him and yank him out of the car.
Now, Byrd's father is hoping for justice.
Willie Byrd, Sr., the victim's father, says, "What I want them to do is get that officer off that force because what he did was racial."
FHP says the teen is being charged with resisting arrest. The investigation is still ongoing.
Viewers with disabilities can get assistance accessing this station's FCC Public Inspection File by contacting the station with the information listed below. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, 888-835-5322 (TTY), or email@example.com.