BREAKING: Parkland shooting survivors file suit against Broward County, Sheriff Scott Israel, former SRO Scot Peterson

Survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday morning against Broward County, Sheriff Scott Israel, former School Resource Officer Scot Peterson, on-scene BCSO commander Capt. Jan Jordan, Broward County School Guard Andrew Medina and other Sheriff’s Office personnel identified in the complaint as “John Doe 1-3.”

“Each of the defendants complained of actions were done intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, wantonly, with deliberate indifference, arbitrarily, and in a manner that shocks the conscience of the court in a constitutional sense,” the complaint states. “Defendant Peterson and the three John Doe’s stood by outside,
guns drawn, but doing nothing to prevent Shooter from marching through the three floors of the
1200 building, taking his time, and murdering dozens of victims.”

The suit alleges the plaintiffs’ civil rights were violated because they “had a clearly established right to liberty, including their rights to personal safety and bodily integrity, as well as protection from unlawful seizure pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“Plaintiffs were seized in that they suffered harm, physical and/or emotional by being shot at or by being in such close proximity to the shooting. At all times relevant to this complaint, Defendant Peterson, as a deputy police officer stationed at a public high school and acting under the color of law, had a duty to perform his job and obey the laws of the United States.”

The lawsuit asks for compensatory damages, punitive damages to be determined by a jury as well as attorney’s fees and costs.

I have little faith or confidence in the two ongoing investigations: one is being conducted by Broward County officials and the other by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

I have seen FDLE investigations first-hand, and have found they frequently whitewash the facts in order to protect public officials — both elected and in law enforcement.

Therefore, for those who want to know exactly what happened during this horrible mass murder, the depositions and discovery generated from this lawsuit may be the only source of factual information.

The massive media coverage given to the survivors’ political activities has overshadowed the misconduct and dereliction of duty by Broward County Sheriff’s personnel before, during and after the shooting. In my humble opinion, this lawsuit will refocus public scrutiny back onto those who are truly to blame.

I cannot help but think if the Sheriff’s Office had taken enforcement action during one of the dozens of contacts it had with the alleged shooter before he ever entered school property, this tragedy would never have taken place. The BCSO needs to answer for that first.

Then they can answer for their cowardice.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


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