Survivors of the Pulse Nightclub killings in 2016 plan to pursue a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Orlando and the Orlando Police Department.
The suit, reports WMFE, accuses law enforcement of violating the civil rights of survivors by not responding to reports of shots fired as quickly as they could have. A complaint was filed in federal court in Florida on behalf of 30 survivors and the living relatives of victims.
Along with the city and its police department, an off-time duty officer moonlighting as security at Pulse is named in the suit. Two-dozen other officers—whose names weren’t listed or publicly released—are accused of ‘failing to act’ and improperly detaining victims.
“We deserved to be rescued sooner by law enforcement officer [sic] who made strategic decisions to wait despite the shooter continuing to shoot and kill nightclub patrons,” said Pulse survivor Kevin Carter.
According to WMFE, other plaintiffs in the case claim to have been illegally detained or had their property seized by police. Sandy Roberts, who was outside the club with her wife, says she fled on foot after hearing shots. When she returned to retrieve her vehicle, she found that it had been impounded by police.
“My involvement in this lawsuit is more than just a stupid car,” said Roberts. “It’s more about civil rights that we as United States citizens have, no matter how dangerous of a situation law enforcement officials might encounter.”
FOX35 posted an excerpt of the Orlando Police Department’s response on their website.
Officials for the agency say they’ve yet to see the suit and can’t comment on its substance—but maintain that law enforcement put their lives in danger to save as many of Pulse’s patrons as possible.
That claim, suggests the brother of a man killed in the shooting, isn’t clear-cut.
“What if the Orlando Police officers who responded to the shooting were aggressive with a plan to rescue victims and hostages and kill the shooter?” asked Berto Capo, whose brother Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo was killed at Pulse before police entered the property.
“Would my brother still be alive?”
The suit says law enforcement made a deliberate decision to prioritize their safety of that of nightclub patrons being gunned down.
“These defendants chose to allow the patrons of the club to be massacred while these defendants ensured only that they themselves were safe,” claims the lawsuit. “These defendants knew that there were innocent people being massacred and they were the only ones who could stop it, and that it was their job to do so, yet they still, in a manner [that] shocks the conscience, chose to disregard the safety of the patrons while instead ensuring only that they themselves were safe.”
The suit is seeking an unspecified amount of monetary damages.