Broward County

Judge orders BSO to release more video footage that shows response to Parkland shooting

Watch surveillance video outside Douglas during school shooting

The Broward Sheriff's Office released surveillance video from outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during and after the shooting by Nikolas Cruz that killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.
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The Broward Sheriff's Office released surveillance video from outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during and after the shooting by Nikolas Cruz that killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office must produce redacted versions of video footage from five exterior cameras at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a Broward circuit court judge decided Wednesday.

The sheriff's office has until May 2 to appeal the court's decision.

Several news agencies, including the Miami Herald, sued the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the Broward County school district, seeking the release of video clips from outside the school during the Feb. 14 massacre that left 17 students and faculty members dead. The news organizations argued that the footage could provide important insight into the effectiveness of law enforcement's response to the rampage.

The Broward Sheriff's Office has faced criticism because deputies, particularly school resource officer Scot Peterson, didn't immediately enter the school in an effort to confront the shooter and minimize the carnage.

Last month, a judge ordered that some of the footage be released.

During a hearing earlier this month, lawyers for the Broward County School Board and Broward State Attorney’s Office tried to block the release for fear that the footage would impede the prosecution of confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz. The school district was concerned that public access to the footage would jeopardize school security.

Parents of some of the victims had expressed concern that displaying the video would be traumatic. News organizations assured the judge that they only wanted to focus on the law enforcement response and that redactions to the footage could block out the rest.

Judge Jeffrey Levenson said at the time he would review the evidence and decide whether there were any lawful exemptions to Florida's public record laws.

In Wednesday's ruling, he said the "statutory exemptions do not bar the disclosure of the video recordings. ..."

"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."

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