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Scott Israel is out, as Fla Dem Sen accused of ‘sleeping’ during emotional Parkland debate

(Image: WPTV screenshot)

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Former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel had harsh words for the “partisan tyrants” in the Florida state Senate who voted to uphold his suspension.

Israel called the vote by the Florida Senate on Wednesday to permanently remove him from his position a “sham” and his attorneys promised litigation would be forthcoming, The former sheriff has been out of his job since January when new Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him over flawed leadership during the 2018 mass shooting at  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

(Video: YouTube/WPTV)

“This process was a sham. It was a farce, and we’re going to get back in,” Israel told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  “If I could give a message to the voters and the citizens and my friends in Broward County, politics won this day. Politics has won today.”

But the 25-15 vote, mostly along party lines, was welcomed by parents of the Parkland victims.

“I wanted truth, justice, and accountability, and today we received some accountability,” Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was one of the 17 who were killed at the school, told the Sun-Sentinel. “It was important for me to be here today because I wanted to look into the senators’ eyes, hear what senators voted yes and no, to see it for myself.”

“This isn’t a win for anybody because nothing brings back 17 people,” Gena Hoyer, who lost her son Luke in the massacre, said. “This is a removal for all the citizens of Broward County. It’s not just for Parkland.”

“I hope the outcome provides some measure of relief to the Parkland families that have been doggedly pursuing accountability,” DeSantis said in a statement.

The Senate Rules Committee recommended removing Israel on Monday after a 10-hour hearing and state senators met Wednesday to deliberate and deliver the final verdict. Family members of the victims were unhappy with Democrats who chose to side with Israel – including all five senators representing parts of Broward County – and voted to reinstate him.

State Sen. Perry Thurston claimed he understood how the parents of victims felt but that “95% of Broward County feels differently about the attempt to remove the sheriff.”

“I can stand here and I can tell you how I empathize with the Parkland parents,” the Democrat who sits on the Rules Committee said. “I’m not disregarding them. None of us would.”

Thurston, who voted twice this week to reinstate Israel, raised the ire of parents like Andrew Pollack who lost his daughter Meadow in the shooting. Pollack called out the lawmaker as a “bum,” slamming him for his vote and “disgusting” behavior as a video allegedly showed him sleeping during hearings.

The lawmaker claimed he was “thinking about my speech” and not sleeping.

Democrats argued that Israel should be reinstated, noting the conflict between emotions and the rule of law.

“Because of the horrendous and ghastly nature of that event, it’s easy to be moved by the emotion and the pleas of the parents who are still grieving and who forever will be grieving for the loss of their children,” State Sen. Gary Farmer, a Broward Democrat, said, according to Sun-Sentinel. “We are a country founded on rule of law. We cannot base our decision on emotion.”

A former spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, Dana Loesch, also weighed in on Israel’s fate, sparring with him as she had long been critical of his incompetence.

Democrats Randolph Bracy of Ocoee, Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg, and Annette Taddeo of Miami split with their party and voted against the sheriff.

“I am taking the call of the parents,” Taddeo said.

“I make this decision today not based on a primary opponent. Not based on the next election. But I make it because I believe that it’s the right decision,” Rouson explained. “The policies created by the sheriff shape the actions of the deputy.”

“Mr. Israel got his day in court,” Republican Sen. Rob Bradley said. “Due process has been served and justice has been served.”

“Mr. Israel’s stunning callousness in some of his statements” in the days after Parkland shooting, and his refusal to accept accountability “only made a horrible and tragic situation worse and that’s part of leadership too,” Bradley added. “Today is the day for accountability.”

Frieda Powers

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