Broward County

Parkland surveillance footage to be released after Florida Supreme Court ruling

Responders evacuate Florida high school following shooting

Students were evacuated by law enforcement in response to reports of an active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Law enforcement from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Hallandale Beach Police Departmen
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Students were evacuated by law enforcement in response to reports of an active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Law enforcement from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Hallandale Beach Police Departmen

UPDATE: The footage was released Wednesday afternoon. Watch it here.

Surveillance footage from outside the Parkland school shooting should soon be released after the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from the Broward County School Board and Broward State Attorney’s office.

In rulings released Wednesday, the court said it would not entertain any further motions for rehearing.

The footage in question may show how law enforcement responded to the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people. The Miami Herald and other media organizations including CNN and the South Florida Sun Sentinel had sued to obtain the footage.

Two lower courts agreed in succession that the footage should be released, prompting appeals from the school board and the state attorney.

It is expected to be released Wednesday afternoon.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office’s response to the mass shooting has drawn national scrutiny, some of it critical. Coral Springs police officers, who also responded to the school, said they saw Broward deputies taking cover outside instead of running into the freshman building to save lives, including the school’s resource officer, Deputy Scot Peterson, who later resigned.

“We’ve believed from the start that the release of this footage is in the public interest,” Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch said Wednesday. “How law enforcement responded to this tragedy is something that demands scrutiny.”

The footage has been redacted so as not to show individual students. Media outlets did not request footage from inside the freshman building, and none of the footage slated for release shows the carnage inside.

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A law enforcement officer rushes toward Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after reports of an active shooter on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. When the shooting stopped, 17 students and staff members were dead. John McCall Sun Sentinel

The video is currently held by BSO, which handled the investigation of the Stoneman Douglas shooting. Former student Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder. BSO has said it does not oppose releasing the video, although it refused to do so without a court order.

Attorneys for the school board had argued that releasing the footage might threaten security at Stoneman Douglas and other schools. The state attorney’s office said the information could damage its prosecution of Cruz and should be exempt from release. But Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson and then the Fourth District Court of Appeal were not swayed.

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.

“It’s a victory for access,” said Dana McElroy, who represented the Herald, the Sun Sentinel and other news organizations in the case.

Kristi Grimm, a spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office, said the SAO did not plan to appeal the decision. School board spokeswoman Tracy Clark said the board would also not appeal.

The ruling is the second victory for media groups suing the government in Florida this week.

On Tuesday, a state court judge ruled in favor of the Herald in a case involving the deadly collapse of the Florida International University bridge. The judge ordered the Florida Department of Transportation to release public records that could shed light on why the busy road running under the bridge wasn’t closed. Six people died.

Nicholas Nehamas: 305-376-3745, @NickNehamas

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