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Appellate Court Orders Release of More External Video in Parkland Mass Shooting

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Thomas & LoCicero's win on behalf of 12 news organizations upholds the public's right to know.

More video of law enforcement’s response to the mass shooting at a Florida high school must be made public, a Florida appeals court has ruled.

Agreeing with lawyers from Thomas & LoCicero, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed an order directing the disclosure of security camera video showing officers responding to the February 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Thomas & LoCicero Partner Dana J. McElroy argued in favor of the release of security camera footage before the appellate court on July 10, representing 12 news organizations:  ABC, Inc., The Associated Press, The Bradenton Herald, Cable News Network, Inc. (CNN), The First Amendment Foundation, Florida Press Association, Gannett Company, Inc., Los Angeles Times Communications LLC, Miami Herald Media Company, The New York Times Company, Orlando Sentinel Communications Company, LLC and Sun-Sentinel Company, LLC. The Broward County School Board and 17th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office opposed release.   

During the appellate hearing, an assistant state attorney said that the footage was gathered as potential evidence in the case against Mr. Cruz and therefore should not be released.  Mr. Cruz was arrested shortly after the attack and is awaiting trial. But Ms. McElroy argued, “The public’s right to know how law enforcement responded – and to potentially prevent future tragedies – outweighs those concerns.” 

In today’s Opinion issued by the appellate court, Judge Robert M. Gross explained, “It is a sad commentary on our times that there must be a full and open public discussion about (1) the type of security system that is appropriate for a large public high school and (2) the appropriate law enforcement response to an active shooter on a high school campus.  Parents have such a high stake in the ultimate decisions that they must have access to camera video footage here at issue and not blindly rely on school board experts to make decisions for them.”

“Tragedies are compounded if the public isn’t allowed to learn from them,” said Thomas & LoCicero partner James J. McGuire, who was part of the legal team seeking access. “We are glad that our clients and their readers and viewers will be able to have the benefit of this video in assessing law enforcement’s response to this horrible event.”

With offices in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Thomas & LoCicero is a Florida law firm that is widely known, respected and committed to free speech and a free press.  The firm represents the industry’s leading electronic and traditional publishers, as well as individual journalists, bloggers and influencers of social media on issues ranging from news gathering to invasion of privacy, from defamation to pre-publication review.  At the heart of the firm’s mission is to champion free speech and defend journalism every day.