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Fifteen students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High are suing top Broward County leaders, school personnel and law enforcement officers who they say are responsible for the physical and emotional harm suffered during the Feb. 14 school shooting.
The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court, seeks compensatory damages from Broward County, school resource officer Scot Peterson, Sheriff Scott Israel, Captain Jan Jordan, superintendent Robert Runcie, school monitor Andrew Medina and three unnamed law enforcement officers who they say took cover instead of confronting shooter Nikolas Cruz.
The plaintiffs request that a jury determine the damages to be paid.
The plaintiffs allege that Peterson and Medina acted with “extreme deliberate indifference” by failing to stop or engage Cruz before he carried out his attack. The suit calls out Jordan, who gave the order to “stage” instead of attacking the shooter, and Israel and Runcie for knowing about the threat posed by Cruz and failing to implement safety measures.
The students claim the defendants violated their civil rights by displaying “conscious-shocking conduct” on Feb. 14.
Included in the lawsuit is an anecdote about a student, identified as T.M., who through his mother says his civil rights were violated the morning of the shooting. T.M. says he arrived a few minutes late to school that morning and was pulled out of his class to have his backpack searched by a school staff member.
The lawsuit alleges Peterson took $200 from T.M.’s backpack and “persistently accused” him of selling drugs. Both T.M. and his mother told police the money was to treat T.M and his girlfriend to a Valentine’s Day dinner.
Peterson told T.M. that he is “not manly enough to own up to what he did,” the lawsuit said.
Solomon Radner, a Michigan attorney who was asked to join the lawsuit because of his background in civil rights, said T.M.’s testimony was included in the lawsuit because it, “paints a picture of who Peterson was.”
Radner said it was ironic that Peterson bullied a student for not being a man, but when there was an emergency on campus later that day, Peterson did not “man up.”
A spokeswoman for the Broward County school district declined to comment, citing district policy to not comment on pending litigation. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office did not return requests for comment.
Contact Colleen Wright at 305-376-3003 and @Colleen_Wright.