A small group of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High are suing a range of officials including Broward County leaders, school staff, and police officers over their handling of the mass shooting in February that left 17 students and faculty dead.
The 30-page lawsuit, posted in federal court on July 11, was filed by 15 students. The suit argues that officials from different sectors failed in their respective jobs to stop the shooter’s rampage.
Defendants named in the suit, among others, were Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, retired Broward Court deputy Scot Peterson, a school resource officer who was on campus at the time, and Andrew Medina, a school monitor who spotted the gunman.
Plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages. The amount was not mentioned in the complaint.
The complaint argues that Broward County officials either had policies that allowed “killers to walk through a school… without being stopped,” or their “inadequate training” caused individuals carrying out the policies to “lack the basic fundamental understandings of what those policies are.”
The suit states that officers acted with “deliberate indifference to” the students’ constitutional rights “by knowingly failing to engage with a recognized threat and intentionally evading his duties to protect the students and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.”
Court filings noted that all plaintiffs were present at the shooting and suffered from “severe psychological injury and trauma.”
In one part, the suit accuses Medina of letting the shooter “walk right into the 1200 building without stopping him, despite knowing he was a bad kid who was potentially dangerous.” Medina was also accused of not calling in a code that would place the school on lockdown, which the suit states could have prevented most of the harm.
A student identified only as “T.M.” in the court filings also accused deputy Peterson of violating his Fourth Amendment rights for taking out $200 from his backpack in a search. Peterson allegedly accused the unnamed student of selling drugs, which the student denies. T.M.’s mother explained to Peterson that the money was for him to take his girlfriend out to dinner for Valentine’s Day. Peterson eventually returned the money.