Florida (NBC) (05/15/20)— A Florida deputy who was fired for remaining behind his patrol car during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will get his job back, his union said Thursday.
The Broward County deputy, Sgt. Brian Miller, will be reinstated with full seniority, back pay and other benefits, according to an arbitration ruling obtained by NBC News.
Miller was paid more than $137,000 in 2018, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
The arbitrator, Danielle Hargrove, said the Broward County Sheriff’s Office violated Miller’s rights when it fired him in June, several months after the department was legally allowed to.
Miller was fired for neglect of duty in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting in Parkland, which left 17 students, coaches, and a teacher dead.
A state commission that examined the shooting said Miller, who heard gunfire inside the school and was the first supervisor at the scene, claimed that he remained outside to direct the law enforcement response. But Miller’s first radio call wasn’t made until five minutes after he arrived, the commission said.
“Any law enforcement officer, regardless of rank, who arrives at the scene of an active shooter while shots are still being fired has an obligation to pursue the sound of those gunshots and confront the shooter, but Sgt. Miller remained behind his car in a position of personal safety,” the commission found.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, a committee member, called Miller’s performance an “absolute, total failure,” according to the Sun Sentinel.
In a statement, the general counsel for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday’s decision was “based on a technicality” and “wrongly decided.” The counsel said the agency was exploring all legal options.
In a separate statement, the sheriff’s office added that the arbitrator didn’t address “the conduct of Sergeant Miller on the day children and adults were massacred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while he stood by. Nowhere in the decision is he vindicated for his lack of action on that day.”
The state commission found widespread problems in the law enforcement response, including flawed 911 and radio systems, deputy failures and an “abysmal” response from school resource officer Scot Peterson, who was charged in June with child negligence and negligence.
A lawyer for Peterson called the charges “politically motivated retribution.”
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