Survivors of the Parkland massacre sued school district and law enforcement officials in federal court this week for failing to stop the accused gunman before he killed 17 and wounded 17 others in the Valentine’s Day attack.
Fifteen students, identified only by their initials in court documents, filed a 30-page complaint Wednesday against Broward School District Superintendent Robert Runcie, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, BSO Capt. Jan Jordan, retired School Resource Officer Scot Peterson, and school monitor Andrew Medina. Court documents state the officials violated students’ constitutional rights through “arbitrary, conscious-shocking actions and inactions that caused students to die” and left others severely traumatized.
Attorney Solomon Radner told the Sun Sentinel the survivors listed in the suit suffered no physical injuries as a result of the massacre, but were present in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s 1200 building or on campus as Nikolas Cruz unloaded dozens of rounds into classroom windows and hallways. Medina, according to the complaint, radioed a colleague about a “suspicious student” he recognized as potentially dangerous just a minute before the attack began — but never ordered the school into lock down because “he didn’t see a gun.”
Likewise, Peterson — disgraced nationally as “the coward of Broward” and forced into early retirement — stood outside the 1200 Building with his back against a wall as he searched for signs of an active shooter. Students allege fellow cops called Peterson a “ROD” — an acronym for “retired on duty.” Peterson’s respective bosses, Jordan and Israel, face equally harsh criticism in court documents for failing to properly train the county’s sheriff’s deputies or respond to dozens of warnings about Cruz’s potential for mass violence.
“This is a shot at specific law enforcement officials who failed the students on that particular day,” Radner said. “Law enforcement choked and the goal of this lawsuit is to ensure that this never happens again. If they choke and they cause people to die, they will have to face the music.”
Russell Williams, Medina’s attorney for other legal issues, told the Sun Sentinel his client fulfilled the duties outlined in his job description that day, noting a court would likely suggest Peterson did too.
“He’s immune from prosecution, including civil action, as an individual unless the conduct at issue was committed with ill will, hatred, spite or evil intent,” he said. “There’s no way any expert is going to get on the stand and testify to that.”