More than a dozen MSD students file lawsuit against Broward County

Broward County sheriff, school superintendent among those named in lawsuit

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Ian Margol - Reporter

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - More than a dozen Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and recent graduates filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Broward County, as well as specific individuals for the "severe psychological injury and trauma" they suffered in the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting.

Those named in the lawsuit include former school resource Deputy Scot Peterson, Broward Sheriff's Office Capt. Jan Jordan, former MSD baseball coach and security guard Andrew Medina, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and three unidentified BSO deputies referred to as John Does 1-3.

"What happened that day shouldn't have happened because we deserve more from our law enforcement," one recent graduate, Audrey Diaz, said at a news conference Wednesday. "(They) could have ended the massacre before more people had died that day."

Diaz said she spent the day of the shooting talking about prom and Grad Bash.

But their planning was cut short by the attack that left 17 people dead.

"Some of my friends who were killed that day didn't get to go to those events," Diaz said. 

According to the complaint, Jordan, who was the commanding officer at the shooting scene, "refused to allow emergency personnel to enter the school, even into the safe areas, to save lives" while former student Nikolas Cruz was still on school property.  

Click here to read the full complaint. 

The complaint stated that Medina, meanwhile, was the first person to spot Cruz at the school on Valentine's Day, but failed to lock down the school or stop Cruz from his shooting spree, which ultimately killed 17 people.

Israel's "arbitrary and conscience-shocking actions and inactions directly and predictably caused children to die, get injured and get traumatized," the complaint stated.

Runcie, meanwhile is accused by the 15 students of failing to ensure the safety and well-being of the students and faculty, and Peterson is accused of failing to keep students and faculty safe by failing to enter the building where the shooting occurred and instead taking cover. 

"You didn't do nothing because you knew that you weren't going to put your life on the line for these kids. So why were you there? Working? Getting our money?" Audrey Diaz's mother, Iris Diaz, said. 

The students are also suing the county as a whole, stating that its "policies and procedures, and training or lack thereof, demonstrated deliberate indifference to the rights (of the) plaintiffs, and that deliberate indifference caused the herein complained-of harm to take place."

According to the complaint, Israel, Runcie and other Broward County officials were previously warned that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was an easy target, but never did enough to secure it. 

"This lawsuit should not be misconstrued as a shot at law enforcement. That's not what this is," Diaz's attorney, Solomon Radner, said. "This is a shot at specific law enforcement officials who failed students that day."

The students accused the defendants of violating their civil rights under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and under the 14 Amendment, which addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws.

The plaintiffs are demanding a jury trial. They are seeking "full and fair compensatory damages in an amount to be determined by a jury," as well as attorney fees and costs associated to filing the lawsuit.
 
 

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