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Judge Gives Go-Ahead for Reenactment of Tragic 2018 Parkland Shooting

Judge Gives Go-Ahead for Reenactment of Tragic 2018 Parkland Shooting

A judge in Florida has given the go-ahead for reenactments to take place at the school where 14 kids and 3 teachers were killed in a school shooting in the United States in 2018.

The request, filed as part of a civil case against a former sheriff’s deputy accused of inaction during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was granted on Wednesday by Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips.

The school building had been sealed up for the better part of the previous five years. The building had been closed off until earlier this month when authorities allowed survivors and the relatives of the victims to explore the premises as part of their healing process.

Evidence for the criminal prosecutions against ex-deputy Scot Peterson and attacker Nikolas Cruz had been preserved in part by sealing the building. In August of last year, as they deliberated Cruz’s sentence, the jury visited the location of the crime.

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After Cruz (then 24) pled guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in October 2021, the jury decided against the capital penalty and instead gave him a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Peterson, meanwhile, was cleared of child neglect, perjury, and criminal negligence charges related to his alleged inaction during Cruz’s attack last month.

However, several of the victims’ relatives have filed a legal suit against the ex-deputy, claiming that Peterson should have done more to halt the violence. In civil cases, the burden of proof is lighter than in criminal proceedings. Peterson, the school’s resource officer, came swiftly after shooting broke out on February 14, 2018.

However, he can be seen grabbing his revolver and running inside a nearby building in the security tape. For the next 40 minutes, he would remain in that spot. Defense witnesses have stated that Peterson claimed he couldn’t tell where the gunshots was coming from.

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He further mentioned that during those 40 minutes, he called for police and put the school on “code red” lockdown. In 2018, Peterson appeared on the Today Show to further express his regret about what transpired. My children were in there. He told Today’s Savannah Guthrie, I never would have sat there and let my kids get butchered.

There are bloodstains on the floor near where the gunshots took place, as well as collapsed desks, shattered glass, and other debris from the Valentine’s Day celebrations that were taking on at the time. The judge has not yet decided whether or not to actually play the reenactments she allowed on Wednesday in court. For another time, the judge mused.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, David Brill, initially requested the reenactment. He suggested that if they reenact the incident, the jury will know that Peterson could have seen and heard the violence from where he was hiding. “We don’t want to leave anything to chance and allow Peterson to escape justice in this civil case like he did in the criminal one,” Brill said.

Michael Piper, Peterson’s attorney, argued against doing reenactments because they wouldn’t be “reliable” evidence. “There are so many variables that cannot be accounted for,” Piper said. Still, Piper contended that the defendant’s legal team should be allowed to repeat the scene if the plaintiffs were.

The judge has ordered that the reenactments take place on the same dates or very close to them, and that residents in the area be given plenty of notice. Later on, the school building where the incident occurred will be torn down.

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