An appeals court on Friday delayed an order forcing the release of school surveillance footage recorded the day of the Parkland school shooting in order to allow Broward County Public Schools the time to file an appeal with the Florida Supreme Court.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal had ordered this week that the surveillance footage from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School be released Friday, upholding a lower court ruling in favor of the Miami Herald and other media outlets that sued months ago in order to force the release of the video. The footage — showing the moments immediately after the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 people dead — may shed light on what law enforcement officers did as Nikolas Cruz gunned down students and staff in the freshman building before fleeing campus.
Some BSO deputies responding to the scene took cover instead of rushing into the building to confront the shooter and save lives, according to Coral Springs Police Department officers who were also present. The BSO deputies said in reports that they could not locate where exactly the shooting was taking place.
A lower court judge watched the tapes and ruled in April that the footage should be released. But the Broward State Attorney’s Office and the Broward County School Board appealed that decision, saying such a disclosure could threaten Cruz’s prosecution and reveal crucial information about the school’s security system. On Wednesday, the Fourth District Court of Appeal said the benefit to the public in being able to judge the actions of its law enforcement officers outweighed those arguments.
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The Broward Sheriff’s Office had planned to release the footage Friday morning.
But only minutes before the deadline — and after a similar motion by the Broward State Attorney’s Office was denied — the court granted a motion by Broward Schools to stay the court’s order by 10 days so that the school district and State Attorney’s Office can seek review before the state Supreme Court. Attorneys for the school district, which could not immediately be reached for comment, argued in an emergency motion that the court had misapplied Florida law and that the release of the videos would jeopardize school safety.
The court granted the school board’s motion, in part. The suing media organizations have until Monday to respond to a second request by the school board that the court certify the issue as one of great importance.
The footage subject to Friday’s decision does not include video from the freshman building where the shooting took place. It is separate from video released months ago by order of a judge showing the actions of former BSO deputy Scot Peterson, the school resource officer who resigned after failing to enter the building where Cruz attacked.