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Judge to rule whether public can see more video from outside Stoneman Douglas

Assistant Principal Denise Reese (back to the camera) greets a school employee on her return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Friday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Coral Springs, Fla. Teachers and school administrators returned to the school for an orientation for the first time after 17 victims were killed in a mass shooting at the school. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS)

It will be at least four weeks before the public could see additional video footage from outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School—if access is granted at all.

Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey R. Levenson said Wednesday he will review the footage captured on video cameras outside the Parkland high school during the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 dead and another 17 wounded.

The approximately 10 hours of footage, sought by the South Florida Sun Sentinel and other media organizations, does not depict admitted shooter Nikolas Cruz or any of the victims. It also does not show the inside of the school, where the shooting took place.

Media lawyer Jim McGuire argued the public is entitled to the video to properly judge law enforcement’s response to the emergency as it unfolded.

“The (Broward) Sheriffs Office works for the people,” he said. “The people have the right to monitor their work.”

But the release is vehemently opposed by the Broward School Board and the State Attorney’s Office.

School Board lawyer Eugene Pettis argued that the video exposes the limitations of the security cameras on campus, which would jeopardize student safety.

Assistant State Attorney Joel Silvershein said all of the footage remains part of an active criminal investigation.

Levenson had already ordered the release of video showing the response of Deputy Scot Peterson, the school resource officer criticized for waiting outside the school. Peterson resigned days later.

The sheriff’s office is also investigating claims that other deputies remained outside the school.

A detailed timeline of events released by the sheriff’s office led the media organizations to believe additional footage showing the response of other law enforcement officers should have been released, according to court documents.

David Ferguson, attorney for the Broward Sheriff’s Office, said the agency does not object to releasing additional footage — as long as it’s by court order.

Levenson said he will determine whether to release the footage after he’s reviewed it. It will be two weeks before the sheriff’s office can redact images of students, and Levenson promised to give the school board two weeks to review the video and decide whether to appeal his decision.

Cruz, 19, who faces the death penalty if convicted of premeditated murder, is scheduled to be back in court next Wednesday for a hearing on whether he is financially indigent. If not, he can no longer be represented by the Broward Public Defender’s Office.


© 2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.