Broward Sheriff Scott Israel continues to cover his own ass by refusing to release the security videos taken outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the Valentine’s Day school shooting.
Scott Israel initially promised during the CNN Townhall that he’d release the security video from outside the school, but now Israel is fighting the release of the security video.
Scott Israel then stated in a press conference that the security videos have “we’re not going to disclose the video at this time and we may never disclose the video”.
Israel has already shown himself to be a liar, who is probably mainly covering his own ass after his Sheriff’s Office apparently instructed their officers to cower outside the high school, instead of entering the school and confronting the shooter.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Officers apparently just stood outside and listened to 17 kids and adults get slaughtered.
I wonder why Scott Israel came out immediately to attack the initial Broward County Sheriff’s Officer, Scot Peterson, who we’ve been told was on campus when the shooting started, for not entering the school, but now is against the public from seeing the rest of the video.
We know Israel has watched the security video he refuses to release, and I bet his stonewalling the release of the security video has something to do with the actions of Broward County officers and commands being given to the officers over the radio that would make Scott Israel look REALLY bad, and maybe even open him up to lawsuits for unbelievably horrible way he and his office handled the shooter situation.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel knows that he would seal his fate and ultimately lose his job, if he did allow the release of the videos from outside the school shooting, which would sow that Israel is full of shit, and that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office would be held accountable for their inaction, which led to the murder of 17 people, as they stood outside and listened to each gunshot.
Scott Israel says that their “main goal at this point, absent of helping these families heal and keeping our school safe, is making sure this killer receives the justice he deserves.”
But what about making sure that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and Broward Sheriff Scott Israel gets the justice it deserves?
Since the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, many government officials have walled off information needed to assess how well they did their jobs.
At the head of the pack is Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, who suggests the school’s resource officer acted cowardly during the mass shooting and two deputies mishandled earlier warnings. Aside from that, though, the sheriff wants you to take his word that he and his deputies did amazing work before, during and after the shooting.
But that’s not how it works. To hold government accountable, we need a better picture of what happened. And that means we need to see the evidence ourselves, starting with the security video taken outside the school.
The video is not the only public record sought by the South Florida Sun Sentinel and other media organizations in the aftermath of the shooting and the epic government failure surrounding it. Among other things, we’ve also requested copies of the 911 calls, police radio calls and incident reports from the 39 times BSO deputies were called to the home of Nikolas Cruz, who’s confessed to carrying out the rampage that killed 17 and injured 17.
But the video is an important first step in answering urgent questions, including: What went right and wrong outside the school? Where was School Resource Officer Scot Peterson during the shooting? How long did it take BSO deputies to arrive? Did they enter the building or not? Were Coral Springs officers first to go in? Were emergency medical technicians restrained from entering? How long before rescue trucks were able to race victims to hospitals?
The answers are needed now because there’s a lot of back and forth over who did what. Peterson says the sheriff is wrong about what he saw on the video and Coral Springs police say several BSO deputies didn’t enter the school, either.
Meanwhile, we’re in the middle of a major public debate about how to harden schools, whether to change gun laws, how to handle potentially dangerous gun owners and most importantly, whether our children are safe in school.
And laws are being formed without the benefit of knowing what exactly happened.
So on Thursday, the Sun Sentinel’s lawyers will appear before Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Levenson to make the case that there’s good cause to release the video.
“By refusing to release the video, the public is being deprived of significant and first-hand information that would allow them to have an informed voice on what changes may be necessary to avoid such tragedies in the future, and to potentially provide an answer to the pressing question of whether more lives could have been saved,” says our lawyer, Dana McElroy, of the Tampa-based firm of Thomas & LoCicero.
Sheriff Israel doesn’t want to release the video, which is curious, given that he’s already given a detailed description of its substance. At a televised press conference eight days after the shooting, he said he felt “the public needed to know” that the video showed Peterson did “nothing” except get on his radio while shots were being fired. The sheriff said Peterson “never went in” as he should have.
But four days later, Peterson, through his lawyer, said the criticism was unwarranted and that the video (along with eyewitness testimony) will exonerate him.
We tried to get the video — and please note, we only seek the video taken outside the school — from Broward school district officials, but they apparently gave their only copy to BSO.
Government agencies cannot give their only copy of a public record — which includes photos and videos — to another agency. The Florida Supreme Court made that clear in a Tampa case, where the city “improperly played a ‘shell game’ ” to avoid disclosure. Given that, BSO should make a copy and return the video — and the district should release it.
The law provides an exception if the video shows a security system. But it also says that if there’s good cause for releasing it — and good cause certainly exists here — it can still be released.
Besides, the school’s surveillance cameras are hardly a secret. They’re clearly visible, as they should be. People should know they’re being watched.
Regardless, the school district plans to tear down Building 12, which makes moot the argument about its security cameras.
The sheriff argues that the video shouldn’t be released because it’s part of an active investigation. But the school district isn’t a law enforcement agency and so can’t claim “active criminal investigation.” Plus, there’s an exemption if the information has already been disclosed, as it has. Plus, the video doesn’t show the shootings, but law enforcement’s response. Plus, Cruz has already confessed.
In a related case, Circuit Judge Charles Greene found “good cause” existed for releasing otherwise-exempt records about how the Florida Department of Children and Families treated Cruz after he cut himself. To its credit, DCF proactively sought the ruling to release the records.
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