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Broward prosecutors, for now, want to limit the release of certain surveillance video in the Parkland school shooting that left 17 people dead.
The State Attorney’s Office on Monday asked to intervene in a lawsuit filed by media outlets, including the Miami Herald, which seeks to release surveillance footage from outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High that reveals how deputies responded to the rampage.
The lawsuit, filed last week against the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the county’s school board, asks that the public “be given the first-hand opportunity to review and evaluate the video and the actions of its government officials.”
The media outlets, also including CNN and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, filed the suit after Sheriff Scott Israel publicly described footage that showed a school resource deputy did not enter the building to engage the shooter during the Feb. 14 attack.
The massacre sparked a national debate on gun control and criticism of law-enforcement response to gunman Nikolas Cruz – in the months before the shooting, as well as during the chaotic scene at the suburban school.
Israel himself has come under political scrutiny for his handling of the case, while Scot Peterson, the now-retired deputy singled out by the sheriff, has insisted he did nothing wrong.
Cruz, 19, is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and is facing indictment by a grand jury. An indictment for first-degree murder would make Cruz eligible for the death penalty under Florida law.
Florida’s broad public records law generally allow for the release of much of the evidence in a criminal case, after it has been made available to the defense. The law provides exemptions for records that might be “criminal investigate information” that is part of an active probe.
“The release of such information would be detrimental to the fair presentation of evidence to the grand jury, any jury hearing this matter at trial, and potentially, the due process rights of Nikolas Cruz,” Assistant State Attorney Joel Silvershein wrote in the motion.
Florida law also allows authorities to keep secret footage that might reveal a security-system plan, although it can be released if a judge deems it “for a good cause.” The media lawsuit does not ask for footage of the interior of the building, where the killings took place.