The public must be allowed to see the security video from outside last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a judge ruled Monday.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel, along with other media organizations, sued the Broward Sheriff’s Office last month for access to the video, arguing that it is critical for the public to analyze law enforcement’s response to the shooting.
Deputy Scot Peterson, the school’s resource officer, resigned after Sheriff Scott Israel criticized him for waiting outside the school as shooter Nikolas Cruz fired on students inside. The Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations that other deputies also waited outside.
Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey R. Levenson signed an order Monday authorizing the video’s release but immediately delayed the order until Thursday to give the Sheriff’s Office and the School Board a chance to appeal.
The sheriff’s office does not intend to appeal.
“The Broward Sheriff’s Office welcomes the court’s decision to release surveillance video from outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School showing former Deputy Peterson’s response,” spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion said in a news release. “If none of the involved entities file an appeal by noon on Thursday, BSO will release the video.”
The video does not show Cruz or any of the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 and injured 17 others, according to the sheriff’s office.
Cruz, 19, has been indicted on charges of murder and attempted murder. He is being held without bond at the Broward main jail and is due in court Wednesday for a formal arraignment.
His attorneys have said he is not denying guilt but is holding off on a guilty plea in the hopes that prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.
School district officials, including an assistant principal from Stoneman Douglas, argued in court last week that releasing the video would expose the limits of the cameras mounted at various positions on campus, creating a security risk.
The Sheriff’s Office indicated that Israel was in favor of releasing the video to the public but did not feel he had the authority because it is part of an active criminal investigation and an internal affairs investigation into Peterson.
Dana McElroy, attorney for the media organizations, including the Miami Herald and CNN, argued that the video’s release is essential for a thorough and transparent analysis of the law enforcement response.