Florida

Appeals Court Orders Broward County Sheriff to Release School Shooting Footage

Many believe the footage will show what sheriffs were doing outside during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.

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|||Daniel Varela/TNS/Newscom
Daniel Varela/TNS/Newscom

The Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach, Florida, has ruled that outdoor footage from the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School must be released.

As Reason previously reported, media outlets believe the footage will show what Broward County sheriff's deputies were doing outside the school as the incident unfolded. Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed that Scot Peterson, the deputy who was the school's resource officer at the time, did not enter the school to confront the shooter. After this revelation, plus news that Peterson would receive a lifetime pension of $8,702 a month, Coral Springs police officers told CNN three additional sheriff's deputies remained outside the school, hidden behind their vehicles, when they arrived at the scene. While it was not immediately clear whether the shooter was still in the building when the deputies arrived, the Coral Springs cops were upset that they did not join them inside the school.

On Wednesday, the appeals court ruled in favor of the news organizations seeking access to the video, saying the Broward County Sheriff's Office (BSO) must release it by Friday. "It is a sad commentary on our times that there must be a full and open public discussion about (1) the type of security system that is appropriate for a large public high school and (2) the appropriate law enforcement response to an active shooter on a high school campus," Judge Robert Gross wrote in the ruling.

Gross said parents also had a right to "have access" to the footage and "not blindly rely on school board experts to make decisions for them." He criticized law enforcement officials, writing, "The media showed the need for the public to actually witness the events as they unfolded because the narrative provided by 'the authorities' is confusing and has shifted and changed over time." BSO initially resisted requests for the footage but ultimately decided not to join the school board and the state attorney's office in appealing a previous ruling in favor of the media.

Judge Burton Conner dissented, echoing the school district's argument that the footage could expose details of the high school's security system, a claim that Dana McElroy, an attorney for the news organizations, had rebutted by noting Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie's promise to improve that system. Still, Conner agreed that "the public has the right to know" so it can evaluate the law enforcement response.

"The footage is the only objective evidence of what occurred and when," said Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, which joined the media outlets in the lawsuit, in an interview with the Miami Herald. "The whole purpose of our open government laws is oversight and accountability. Access to the video footage allows us to hold those accountable who may not have done their jobs."

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  1. Gwinnett County, Georgia Sheriff is not the only Sheriff in trouble around dem parts.

  2. After this revelation, plus news that Peterson would receive a lifetime pension of $8,702 a month, Coral Springs police officers told CNN three additional sheriff’s deputies remained outside the school, hidden behind their vehicles, when they arrived at the scene.

    Broward County Deputies: “Oh, no, please do not fire us. Whatever will we do with $100,000-a-year pensions?

  3. “It is a sad commentary on our times that there must be a full and open public discussion about (1) the type of security system that is appropriate for a large public high school”

    End public schooling, and the sadness will diminish.

    1. It’s a sad commentary on our times when public officials think the public shouldn’t be allowed to weigh in on the type of security system that is appropriate for a large public high school.

  4. Good thing that CNN had all those activists on TV to call NRA members Nazis while holding up Sheriff Israel as some kind of “brave truth teller” for deflecting blame.

    1. How can you say such things when this footage shows the bravery of the Broward Sheriff’s Department in action?

    2. Behind Cruz’s Rampage: Obama’s School-Leniency Policy

      Quotes (but read the whole article):
      Despite committing a string of arrestable offenses on campus before the Florida school shooting, Nikolas Cruz was able to escape the attention of law enforcement, pass a background check and purchase the weapon he used to slaughter three school staff members and 14 fellow students because of Obama administration efforts to make school discipline more lenient.


      A repeat offender, Cruz benefited from the lax discipline policy, if not the counseling. Although he was disciplined for a string of offenses — including assault, threatening teachers and carrying bullets in his backpack — he was never taken into custody or even expelled. Instead, school authorities referred him to mandatory counseling or transferred him to alternative schools.

      By avoiding a criminal record, Cruz passed a federal background check in February 2017 before purchasing the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle investigators say was used in the mass shooting.

    3. Humble opinion: Sheriff Israel is the chickenshit of the Decade, he is a coward of Broward. He is the kind of guy that gives bureaucrat a bad name. He should move to New York where he would no doubt be hailed as some sort of new age shaman against the evil republican spirits.

  5. the footage could expose details of the high school’s security system

    FFS… it’s not Fort Knox.

    1. Yes it hold something more precious then gold, our children!

      -Couldn’t resist

      1. I dissent from that viewpoint.

  6. It is remarkable that so much effort was spent trying to rile up anti-2nd Amendmentsentiments and boost the gun control march that the sheriffs department has flown under the radar in the mainstream despite the level of dipshittery they’ve displayed.

    1. Read this staggering investigation on how the Broward School District engaged in systematic coddling of dangerous and criminal students, with predictable consequences.

      Broward School Violence: Cruz’s Massacre Is Far From the Whole Story

      Quotes:
      Broward County, Fla., school officials portray as a great success their program offering counseling to students who break the law, instead of having them arrested or expelled. They insist that it played no role in February’s school massacre by Nikolas Cruz.

      The evidence tells a far different story.

      Broward County reporting shows that years of “intensive” counseling didn’t just fail to reform repeat offender Cruz, who allegedly went on to shoot and kill 17 people at his high school. Records show such policies have failed to curtail other campus violence and its effects now on the rise in district schools ? including fighting, weapons use, bullying and related suicides.

      Meanwhile, murders, armed robberies and other violent felonies committed by children outside of schools have hit record levels, and some see a connection with what’s happening on school grounds. Since the relaxing of discipline, Broward youths have not only brazenly punched out their teachers, but terrorized Broward neighborhoods with drive-by shootings, gang rapes, home invasions and carjackings.

    2. With no article at Reason titled “Progressives pounce….”

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