Parkland survivors, families file federal lawsuit alleging their civil rights were violated

Parkland survivors, families file federal lawsuit alleging their civil rights were violated
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A group of Parkland, Fla., shooting survivors and their families filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday alleging that the county and local law enforcement failed to protect the high school students, resulting in “psychological injury and trauma.”

The lawsuit claims various school and county officials violated students’ constitutional rights when they did not adequately safeguard Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty died during the Feb. 14 shooting.

Each of the 15 plaintiffs represented in the lawsuit are students who were at the school on the day of the shooting, according to a press release on Wednesday.

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The lawsuit’s defendants include Broward County, where the high school is located; the school’s superintendent; and four members of local law enforcement.

“The allegations in this complaint — many of which have been publicly known for some time — paint a shocking image of one missed opportunity after another on the part of the defendants,” Solomon Radner, one of the attorneys representing the survivors, said in a statement.

“I can’t help but think had the defendants seized on one — ONE — of these missed opportunities to stop the shooter in his tracks, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School might have been the name of just another school instead of being synonymous with ‘mass shooting,’ ” Radner added.

Four of the five counts in the lawsuit deal with former school resource officer Scot Peterson’s behavior before the shooting. The lawsuit alleges that Peterson conducted an invasive search of several students’ backpacks hours before the shooting and took $200 from one student that he accused of selling drugs.

The search was a violation of the students’ civil rights, according to the lawsuit.

“Peterson’s primary concern was presumably to illustrate for the students how tough he was,” the lawsuit states while accusing Peterson of inaction during the shooting and lying to the public about it afterward.

Peterson has been the target of public outrage for surveillance video that shows he did not enter the school building during the shooting.

The lawsuit also accuses Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie and Broward Sheriff Scott Israel of failing to improve safety conditions at the Parkland high school, alleging that both men knew conditions were below standard.

The lawsuit further details mistakes made by school guard Andrew Medina and law enforcement officer Jan Jordan, who both were unable to prevent the shooting.

“Law enforcement choked,” Radner said at a news conference on Wednesday, according to CNN.

This lawsuit is one of several brought by Parkland survivors, though it is the first to name individual members of law enforcement.

Many Parkland survivors and their families became vocal anti-violence advocates in the shooting's aftermath, with a group of survivors launching multimillion-dollar gun control advocacy group March for Our Lives.

The group’s most visible leaders have become public figures with millions of total followers on Twitter.

March for Our Lives leaders are spending the summer touring areas of the U.S. that are heavily affected by gun violence while the families of Parkland victims launch an advocacy group called Stand With Parkland.