Parkland shooting survivors sue sheriff, superintendent

Scott Israel, Broward County Sheriff. File photo: Wikipedia

July 11 (UPI) — A group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and parents filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Broward County authorities and the school’s superintendent over the Feb. 14 shooting in which 17 students and faculty were killed.

Two students and the mothers of 13 minor students sued Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, retired school resource officer Scot Peterson, Broward Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jan Jordan, school monitor Andrew Medina, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie and three other deputies identified as John Doe one, two and three. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages related to the shooting at the school in Parkland, Fla.

The suit alleges Runcie and Israel failed to protect students after receiving warnings about shooter Nicolas Cruz prior to the shooting, and that Peterson and five other deputies’ inaction or poor training resulted in more students being killed, injured or traumatized.

“This is a shot at specific law enforcement officials who failed the students on that particular day,” said Solomon Radner, the attorney representing the students. “Law enforcement choked and the goal of this lawsuit is to ensure that this never happens again … if they choke and they cause people to die, they will have to face the music.”

Also mentioned in the suit is an incident in which Peterson allegedly questioned, searched and seized money from a student he suspected of selling drugs hours before the shooting.

The lawsuit said Peterson was known as “Rod” — an acronym for “retired on duty” — in certain law enforcement circles due to the “lackadaisical nature with which he approached the task.”

In February, Israel said Peterson never entered the building during the shooting. Peterson resigned and retired after the sheriff’s office opened a probe and prepared to suspend him without pay.

“His job duties required him to run towards danger at risk of life and limb, and not to run away from danger for the sole purpose of sole-preservation,” the lawsuit states.

The suit accused the three John Does also of standing outside the building during the shooting.

Medina is accused of failing to stop or engage Cruz, despite seeing him walking toward the building.

“Specifically, he failed to stop shooter, question him, or lock down the school, even though he saw shooter walk past him and he recognized shooter to be a known danger to the school,” the suit states. “He instead radioed ahead to warn fellow monitor David Taylor that a suspicious kid was headed his way.”

Jordan, who was commander of the shooting scene, refused to allow emergency personnel to enter the school, even into the safe areas, during the shooting, according to the plaintiffs.

“She was tasked with the job to protect the children at the school; her arbitrary and conscience-shocking actions and inactions directly and predictably caused children to die, get injured, and get traumatized,” the lawsuit states.

The families of other Parkland students have filed separate lawsuits against Peterson, Cruz’s mother and the couple that took him in after her death, as well as the maker and a seller of the gun he used in the attack.


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