A federal judge ruled last week that police and school workers “had no legal duty to protect students,” in a lawsuit filed on behalf of 15 pupils present during the devastating deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Dough High School in February.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, a former student of the school, Nikolas Cruz, is accused of fatally gunning down 17 people and injuring another 17 at the school last Valentine’s Day.
The 15 students named in the lawsuit said they were left “traumatized” by the unthinkable crime, and filed suit against law enforcement and school officials, including former resource officer, Scot Peterson, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
Peterson, reportedly the only armed official when Cruz entered the building, has been widely ridiculed for hiding outside of the school instead of going after the alleged killer.
“The claim arises from the actions of [shooter Nikolas] Cruz, a third party, and not a state actor,” U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom wrote of the December 12 ruling, according to the newspaper. “Thus, the critical question the Court analyzes is whether defendants had a constitutional duty to protect plaintiffs from the actions of Cruz.”
“As previously stated, for such a duty to exist on the part of defendants, plaintiffs would have to be considered to be in custody,” she continued.
This infuriating. I can’t believe I was silly enough to grow up thinking that police officers at a school had a duty to protect students. https://t.co/1GXPbkImkr
— Cameron Kasky (@cameron_kasky) December 19, 2018
The judge’s decision followed a “a new report” that found staff at the school “rewound a school surveillance video” as Cruz allegedly carried out the unthinkable killing spree.
The student’s attorney, Kristoffer Budhram, alleged that the crime left the plaintiffs with “psychological injuries,” according to the lawsuit. Further, the suit said the district and sheriff’s office officials “either have a policy that allows killers to walk through a school killing people without being stopped.”
“Alternatively, they have such inadequate training that the individuals tasked with carrying out the policies…lack the basic fundamental understandings of what those policies are such that they are incapable of carrying them out.”
Budram spoke of appealing the case to a higher court.
“We are exploring all of our options for ensuring that they get their day in court, including appealing Judge Bloom’s decision,” Budhram wrote via an email to the Sun-Sentinel.
“We respectfully disagree with Judge Bloom’s decision to dismiss our clients’ case. This case is about protecting the Constitutional rights of individuals who were the victims of one of the worst mass shootings in this country’s history.”
[Feature Photo: Nikolas Cruz via Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, AP, Pool]