Sheriff Scott Israel listens as his suspension is upheld, Parkland families claim victory over coward

(Video screenshot from WFOR/video screen file photo from WPLG)

Family members of the 17 men, women, and children murdered during the Parkland massacre in early 2018 reportedly “cheered” Monday when a GOP-led Florida Senate committee upheld disgraced former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel’s suspension.

“The vote in the Rules Committee came after a marathon day of emotional pleas, legal arguments and political posturing,” the Sun-Sentinel reported.

“Rules Committee members heard from Parkland families, who asked to uphold Israel’s suspension. Contingents of Israel supporters and opponents traveled to the capital from Broward to argue for and against the suspended sheriff. And senators delved into legal details and questioned what went wrong in the Parkland shooting.”

Listen below as Jennifer Montalto, whose daughter Gina was murdered during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School, asks the committee to uphold Israel’s suspension:


(Source: Carey Codd of Miami station WFOR)

“This morning I felt compelled to ask the Florida Senate senators to uphold the suspension of Scott Israel,” she said.

“His neglectful and incompetent leadership of the Broward Sheriff’s Office compounded the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, where 17 wonderful souls, including my daughter Gina Montalto, were murdered. Gina was our strong, brave and beautiful daughter, and I miss her with all my heart every day.”

All the Democrats on the committee reportedly voted in favor of Israel, whose stunning incompetence and widely panned “leadership” before and during before the Parkland massacre many blame for the day’s horrifying events. All the Republicans voted against him.

Then-newly inaugurated Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Israel in January on the basis that he’d “egregiously failed in his duties as Sheriff for Broward County,” “failed to maintain a culture of vigilance and thoroughness amongst his deputies in protecting the peace” and “demonstrated during multiple incidents that he has not provided for the proper training of his deputies.”

“[D]ue to his demonstrated neglect of duty and incompetence, Sheriff Israel can no
longer demonstrate the qualifications necessary to meet his duties in office,” DeSantis wrote. “[I]t is in the best interests of the residents of Broward County, and the citizens of the State of Florida, that Sheriff Israel be immediately suspended from the public office, which he now holds.”

 

In defending Israel, Democrats reportedly sought to portray DeSantis as the bad guy and the disgraced former sheriff as the victim.

“The governor has not met his burden of justifying the extraordinary act of removing a constitutionally elected officer,” state Sen. Gary Farmer argued. “We shouldn’t do this. We should reinstate the sheriff. If he did a bad job, the solution is in the next election.”

Democrats pursued this defense strategy despite being told by those who lost loved ones during the tragedy how infuriating they find it.

“Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed at the school, told the Rules Committee he was tired of Israel presenting himself as a victim,” the Sun-Sentinel noted.

“Scott Israel refused to learn the lesson of past mass-casualty events,” Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina died during the shooting, added. “It is wrong to view this failure as isolated because there were serious interconnected failures [linked to Israel].”

The fact that Democrats stood up for Israel irritated former National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch, who’s long been critical of his incompetence.

“Any FL lawmaker that sides with this cowardly former sheriff who blames everyone else for his incompetency stands against the families who suffered the most because of his actions. Sickening that this has ever made it to this point,” she tweeted in an angry thread posted late Monday evening:

The vote is not entirely binding, in that the full 40-member Florida Senate must now affirm it in a vote scheduled for Wednesday. But because Republicans hold a 23 to 17 majority in the Senate, Israel’s suspension will most likely be made permanent

Is there any legitimate reason for any legislator to side with Israel? Perhaps.

Over the summer, a “special master” appointed by the Senate conducted an investigation of sorts into the matter, and on Monday he laid out his conclusions.

“At the hearing, the special master said while he found many failures by sheriffs’ deputies on the day of the shooting, the governor and his lawyers didn’t present evidence of institutional problems that could be attributed to Israel,” NPR reported.

“He told senators, ‘They had a burden of moving forward and proving something and … I didn’t see any documentation of that.'”

However, DeSantis’s team pushed back on his ruling by arguing that the special master’s appointment was itself “a political decision” irrelevant to the actual matter and maintaining that the senators should vote not based on his dubious findings but rather on “whatever moves your conscience.”

The final decision by the GOP-led Senate committee was praised by family members of the Parkland victims:

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Vivek Saxena

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