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Court rules surveillance video from Parkland massacre can be released

A district judge in Florida has approved the release of video that captured the Feb. 14 mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. (Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images)

Florida's 4th District Court of Appeal ruled Friday that video captured during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida, in February can be released, WFOR-TV reported.

News organizations including CNN, the Miami Herald, The Associated Press, ABC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others petitioned to have the video released as a matter "of great public importance," according to court documents. Parents of the victims have charged that first responders hesitated to help victims and their actions may have cost lives.

The Broward County School Board did not want the video released and requested an exception, which the court denied.

A 10-day stay on the release of the approximately two-hour video is set to expire Aug. 13, according to WFOR.

What does the video show?

Seventy functioning video cameras captured exterior-only footage, which provides a lens into the actions of law enforcement officers and first responders. The Feb. 14 massacre left 17 dead and 17 others injured.

Shortly after the incident, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office subpoenaed all footage from the cameras and confiscated the computers that housed the videos.

District employees have never seen the footage that was just cleared for release, according to Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie. The video does not show the killings or any of the victims, according to WFOR's report.

What did the court's opinion say?

The finding to release the footage was "tailored to the facts of the case," Judge Burton C. Conner wrote. The facts cited in the document are:

  • The authorities failed to enter a classroom building where a man was shooting at high school students until more than fourteen minutes after the shooting started;
  • The authorities’ narrative explaining the delay was confusing;
  • The authorities’ narrative explaining the delay differed from eyewitness accounts; and
  • The authorities’ narrative shifted and changed over time.

"We held that in this instance, the public record sought (the video footage) will reveal the conduct of public servants discharging their assigned duties and responsibilities, something that the parents of students should be able to evaluate to participate in future decisions concerning the safety of their children," the court ruling said.

What else?

The original petition mentioned school resource officer and former Sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson who retired amid accusations that he failed to enter the school and confront the killer. The video of Peterson's actions was previously released.

Peterson issued an apology last month to the victims' families, NBC News reported. He has claimed that chaos and miscommunications were the reasons why he didn't go inside the building.

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old alleged killer, is charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the shooting. Prosecutors will be seeking the death penalty.

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