Judge Orders Broward Sheriff’s Office to Release More Video Footage During Shooting

Family member embrace following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

A Broward County, Florida, circuit court ruled Wednesday that the sheriff’s office must provide more redacted video footage from exterior cameras at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz’s Valentine’s Day massacre that left 17 students and faculty dead.

“After careful consideration of the testimony and evidence presented, together with this Court’s in-camera review of the video recordings from the exterior cameras, this Court finds that the video recordings minimally reveal information relating to the security system of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson ruled.

The Miami Herald reports several news agencies, including the Herald itself, filed a lawsuit against the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) and the Broward County School Board to obtain the video footage, arguing that it could be an important evaluation tool regarding law enforcement’s response to the incident.

Attorneys for the school board and Broward State Attorney’s Office had attempted to block the release of video footage from the cameras, arguing such an action could create both an obstacle for Cruz’s prosecution and a threat to school security.

BSO drew criticism when it was discovered that its deputies – including school resource officer Scot Peterson – did not immediately enter the school and attempt to overcome the shooter. Peterson, who has since resigned from the force, asserted he acted in accordance with BSO training.

The judge reviewed all the video footage and said it should be released to the public.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel – another media organization that joined the lawsuit – noted Levenson said the video is not part of an active criminal investigation and that the “potential harm” to the school’s security system is “outweighed by the strong public interest in disclosure.”


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