Surveillance video released Wednesday shows the chaotic moments outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the day a gunman killed 17 people.
The video’s expected July 27 release was delayed when the Broward County School Board requested a review by the state’s highest court. On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court said no further appeals would be considered and the footage was released.
The video only shows footage from exterior cameras on campus, not from inside the school building where former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire on students and faculty February 14.
The heavily edited and blurred footage depicts students and staff being directed away from the scene and law enforcement officers at one point opening a gate and entering a school building with their guns drawn. A golf cart is seen being driven away by an officer, but it’s difficult to see whether anyone else is in the cart.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said the cameras are motion activated and, when there is no movement, they skip to the next captured movement.
The videos do not provide a clear picture of law enforcement response. The cameras provide certain windows into the scene, but many blind spots remain.
County and state officials claimed the video’s release harmed the school system’s security plan — an argument the appellate courts rejected.
The release stems from a civil lawsuit filed by CNN and other media outlets seeking hours of security video footage from the exterior of the school.
The media organizations filed suit in hopes the video sheds light on the police response.
In March, separate video taken on the afternoon of the shooting showed former school resource officer Scot Peterson responding to the shots but did not provide much detail. The release of that edited 27-minute video came after media organizations sued the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
The video began with Peterson, wearing his deputy’s uniform, standing between two buildings on campus talking to another adult, then appearing to speak into a radio handset on his shoulder. He walks off screen, and the video changes to a long angle of a golf cart driving away. Another angle shows the golf cart moving down a corridor before the shot switches again.
The final shot, which lasts about 26 minutes, showed what police say was Peterson positioned outside a building. Students, whose images are pixelated, walked into the frame and then out of it.
At various times over the next 26 minutes, people — ostensibly police, as they are not pixelated the way the students were — can be seen at the far corner of the building, behind a pillar in a corridor to the right of the frame and standing near the corridor from which the golf cart emerged.
About 22 minutes into the video, police lights can be seen at the far corner of the building.
In the final seconds of the video, three figures who appear to be in uniform run from the golf cart corridor and off the left side of the screen.
Authorities previously said the footage showed that Peterson never went inside the building where the gunman was shooting at students and school staff.
Peterson was armed but stayed outside the building, authorities said. The Broward Sheriff’s Office active shooter policy calls for deputies to interrupt a shooting and search for victims when there’s a ceasefire.
Parents and students at the school filed a lawsuit in July in connection with the shooting against Broward County, the sheriff, his deputies and the school superintendent.
Two students and 13 minor students’ mothers are plaintiffs in the case, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages, to be determined by a jury.
Many of the allegations in the suit target Peterson, who has been decried as a coward for his response when the shooting erupted. He has said he followed procedure and was unsure where the gunshots emanated.
In a June interview, Peterson said that he arrived at the 1200 Building — where the shooting occurred — to a scene of pandemonium and didn’t have time to be scared “because I was doing things the whole time.”