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Florida cop who hid behind car during Parkland shootings is reinstated, will get back pay

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A Broward County, Fla. Sheriff’s Department supervisor who was fired for remaining inside his parked car while a gunman murdered students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is getting his old job back.

Sgt. Brian Miller will also receive back pay after being suspended in June, 16 months after the Parkland shootings, which will amount to tens of thousands of dollars based on his 2018 salary of more than $137,000 a year, the Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

Miller’s case was dismissed by an arbitrator, the paper said, citing a statement from the union representing deputies and sergeants claiming the Broward County Sheriff’s Office violated his due process rights when he was terminated by Sheriff Gregory Tony.

https://twitter.com/rpetty/status/1260745995731832835

Former high school student Nikolas Cruz is accused of using a semi-automatic rifle to murder 17 students and wound 17 more on Feb. 14, 2018. He’s currently awaiting trial.

After firing Miller, Tony then fired two more deputies, Joshua Stambaugh and Edward Eason, just a few weeks later.

The Sun-Sentinel noted:

Miller was the first supervisor on the scene. He arrived in time to hear three or four shots. As a supervisor, he didn’t rush to take command. Instead, a state commission investigating the shooting found that Miller took his time putting on a bulletproof vest and hid behind his car on Holmberg Road, not going on the radio for 10 minutes.

“Miller failed to coordinate or direct deputies’ actions and did not direct or coordinate an immediate response into the school,” the commission’s report stated. “Sergeant Miller’s actions were ineffective and he did not properly supervise the scene.”

At the time he fired Miller, Tony said, “We cannot fulfill our commitment to always protect the security and safety of our Broward County community without doing a thorough assessment of what went wrong that day. I am committed to addressing deficiencies and improving the Broward Sheriff’s Office.”

A subsequent investigation by the Sun-Sentinel newspaper uncovered multiple failings on the day of the shooting as well as several underlying problems within the department itself.

“A gunman with an AR-15 fired the bullets, but a series of blunder, bad policies, sketchy training and poor leadership helped him succeed,” the paper reported.

For one, Deputy Scot Peterson, the school resource officer, was the only armed authority within the building when the shooting began. But rather than rush to confront Cruz, he exited the building and remained outside in safety, earning him the moniker “Coward of Broward.”

He ordered the school to go on lockdown at 2:25 p.m., according to records, one minute after a Code Red was called — and six minutes after Cruz was spotted on campus by a hall monitor. Peterson did not call for officers to enter the school for 48 minutes while he remained in a sheltered position.

Police officers from nearby Coral Springs were the first to enter the building but they arrived well after Broward County officers.

“Basically, what we’re trained to do is just get right to the threat as quick as possible and take out the threat because every time you hear a shot go off it could potentially be a kid getting killed or anybody getting killed for that matter,” Coral Springs Officer Raymond Kerner said, the Sentinel reported.

Peterson was eventually arrested in June 2019 and charged with seven counts of neglect of a child, three counts of culpable negligence, and one of perjury after a 15-month investigation. His lawyers argued in court in October he could no longer be held accountable for his inactions because the state has formally blamed then-Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who was ousted by incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis in January 2019.

The Florida Senate subsequently upheld the ouster in October.

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

During the hearings, one Democratic state senator, Perry Thurston, was caught sleeping. He was slammed on social media by Parkland resident Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was killed in the shootings.

Last week, a federal judge threw out Israel’s lawsuit, according to a local CBS affiliate.

Jon Dougherty

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