Sergeant fired for response to Parkland shooting reinstated; BSO and parents hope for reversal
Sheriff’s Office says it ‘stands by initial termination’ and will fight this ruling
PARKLAND, Fla. – Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brian Miller, who was the first supervisor to arrive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland during the mass shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018, has been reinstated after arbitration and will receive back pay, the BSO Deputies Association confirmed Thursday.
Miller was fired by Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony in June 2019, after the MSD Public Safety Commission found Miller got on the scene just about five minutes after the first shots were fired but didn’t make his first call over a radio until about seven minutes later.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that it “stands by the initial termination” and is “exploring all legal options to address this erroneous decision.”
Parents of the victims are also outraged.
“He was a coward. He certainly does not deserve to get his job back, and I hope that the judge that this ruling can be overturned and changed,” said Max Schachter, whose son Alex was killed at Stoneman Douglas.
The Deputies Association said in a news release that Miller, who was fired along with three other deputies, was awarded full back pay and will get back his seniority.
“The ruling found BSO violated Sgt. Brian Miller’s Constitutional due process rights and improperly terminated him,” the news release stated.
According to the deputies union, the Sheriff’s Office had 180 days to notify Miller of their intended discipline but fired him two days after that window closed, which led to the arbiter’s ruling.
“We were prepared to address the termination, Sgt. Miller’s dismissal, on the merits. But preliminarily, we filed the motion for summary judgment because BSO had violated his procedural rights,” Miller’s attorney, Gary Lippman, said.
BSO can appeal the arbiter’s ruling, and their general counsel released a statement Thursday afternoon that reads:
“The Broward Sheriff’s Office does not agree with the arbitrator’s decision and stands by the initial termination of Sergeant Brian Miller. The arbitrator ruled on the case without conducting any evidentiary hearing whatsoever and without taking the testimony of a single witness. The decision was based upon a technicality that we believe was wrongly decided. The arbitrator ruled on a procedural issue that BSO allegedly took too long to conduct the investigation, which is the exact opposite finding of an arbitrator that addressed this same issue in an earlier case. The Broward Sheriff’s Office is exploring all legal options to address this erroneous decision.”
Miller was initially placed on restrictive administrative duty in November 2018 after video showed that he remained in the parking lot even after other law enforcement officers entered the school building where 17 students and staff members lost their lives.
BSO Commander Jan Jordan, who oversaw the agency’s response to the Valentine’s Day massacre, resigned that November.
Miller was later among the deputies who were fired by Tony for their alleged inaction the day of the shooting.
“When he arrived the murderer was still in the building firing shots off and he did nothing, he just waited behind his car,“ said Schachter, who was also on the safety commission.
Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina was killed in the shooting, tweeted:
“If Sergeant Miller has any honor, he will resign. He owes it to law enforcement officers who risk their lives each and every day.”
Tony told Local 10 News on Thursday that he stands behind his decision to fire Miller.
🚨Just caught up with @BSO Sheriff Gregory Tony .. asked him his reaction to the arbitration award reinstating Sgt. Brian Miller, one of 4 deputies Tony fired last year for “neglect of duty” at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre ...⏩@WPLGLocal10 pic.twitter.com/HpSKsF9nzW— Glenna Milberg (@GlennaWPLG) May 14, 2020
“You know, the arbitration process is always part of the final aspect of reemploying an employee who was terminated or suffers from some type of disciplinary action that I take, and I understand that that’s always going to be on the table, but that’s not going to change my decision-making in terms of doing what is right for this community," Tony said. "I stood by the termination then and I stand by it now.”
A statement from BSO added: “The arbitrator did not address the conduct of Sergeant Miller on the day children and adults were massacred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while he stood by. Nowhere in the decision is he vindicated for his lack of action on that day.”
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