Parkland Students Sue Police for Shooting

By George Khoury, Esq. on July 13, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When news of the Parkland school shooting broke, the nation was shocked and saddened. While school shootings seem to occur with an alarming frequency, the high death toll at Parkland, and the failure of the first responders, really set it apart.

Notably, due to the onsite law enforcement officers failing to take appropriate action, a group of students have banded together to file the most recent lawsuit related to the shooting. As disturbing as the shooting was, when it was reported that onsite law enforcement actually ran away from the shooter and refused to enter the building after escaping, outrage and litigation ensued.

A Constitutional Deprivation?

The lawsuit challenges the conduct of the officers on duty at the school. In addition to them not entering the building after the shooting started, there were other disturbing allegations contained in the complaint. Another officer, rather than attempting to engage the shooter, set up a "staging" area, and actually refused permission to medics to enter the building, despite knowing that some areas were clear.

Additionally, one of the students in the lawsuit alleges that on the same day of the shooting, one of the school's officers detained and searched him, and confiscated $200 in cash, that the officer claimed was related to drug sales (without any proof). In addition to the claims brought by the other students, the lawsuit alleges several counts related to that singular incident.

The lawsuit's primary contention arises under 42 USC 1983, and focuses on two alternating theories: Either the officers were so poorly trained that it constituted a constitutional violation, or the officers were not poorly trained, but rather deliberately indifferent to the students' constitutional rights.

While there is no doubt that the plaintiffs in the case endured a harrowing experience, these matters tend to be legally complicated and rather difficult to win. Despite the egregiously bad sounding conduct, until the issue of qualified immunity is decided against the officers, the case won't go very far.

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