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Sheriff Sues Over Parkland Suspension

Scott Israel claims governor acted 'for political reasons,' wants to be reinstated
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2019 11:45 AM CST
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Broward County Sheriff's Office Fort Lauderdale headquarters on Jan. 11, 2019.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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(Newser) – A sheriff suspended on accusations that he failed to prevent the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., is officially challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis' punishment. Scott Israel seeks to reclaim the post in a lawsuit, alleging DeSantis acted "for political reasons." Israel, 62, specifically claims DeSantis targeted him because of his support of gun control, since the NRA endorsed the Republican's campaign for governor last year, reports Reuters. DeSantis, however, cited "repeated failures, incompetence and neglect of duty" in issuing his January decision. Before the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Israel had changed a department policy stating deputies "shall" confront shooters to say they "may" perform that action, reports the AP. A state-appointed commission later determined deputies waited too long before heading inside the school.

"It is lamentable that Scott Israel refuses to be held accountable for his actions and continues to hold disregard for the law," says a DeSantis spokeswoman. "He failed. It's that simple … and my daughter and 16 others are dead because of it," adds Fred Guttenberg, per the Miami Herald. Israel argues no evidence was presented to show he acted incompetently or neglected his duties in the Parkland shooting, or another mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport in 2017. Rather, he says "the governor snubbed his nose at Broward County voters saying your vote doesn't count." As such, Israel is "entitled to reinstatement as Broward County sheriff," per the lawsuit filed Thursday. It means a state Senate hearing on the suspension, scheduled for next month, will be put on hold. Israel adds he'll run for sheriff again, regardless of the outcome. (Read more Parkland school shooting stories.)

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