Court rules that surveillance video from Parkland shooting can be released

Media organizations seeking access to footage from outside cameras

Law enforcement outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018.
Law enforcement outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

PARKLAND, Fla. – A Circuit Court judge has ruled that video taken from exterior cameras at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the mass shooting can be released to the public.

Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson said the videos will be released Thursday at the earliest. The delay allows the Broward County Sheriff's Office or Broward County Public Schools time to appeal to the decision. It's not clear whether they will; the sheriff's office said Thursday that videos should be released.

Seventeen people were killed and more than a dozen others were injured when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire inside the Parkland high school on Feb. 14.

Several media organizations, including CNN and the Miami Herald, sued the Broward County Sheriff's Office for the release of the videos. The sheriff's office has said the school operates more than 70 cameras on its campus.

The videos could help shed light on how the school's resource officer and other Broward County sheriff's deputies responded to the shooting.

School Resource Officer Scot Peterson resigned after Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson failed to engage Cruz during the shooting. Peterson, through his lawyer, said he was unsure where the gunfire was coming from, and that he was "no coward."

Others have questioned whether Broward County Sheriff's deputies could have entered the school sooner. Records released by the sheriff's office said law enforcement officers entered the school 11 minutes after the shooting began.

Last week, the sheriff's office released a detailed timeline, drawing from police radio transmissions, that appear to support Israel's charge that Peterson failed to engage.

The school board had argued that the released of the videos could compromise Stoneman Douglas' security systems, but judge rejected that argument. The court also found the active criminal and internal affairs investigation did prevent the videos' release.