Brother of Parkland shooter accuses county of ‘torture,’ files lawsuit
The brother of the Parkland, Florida, school shooter is suing several Broward County officials, saying they violated his Eighth Amendment rights and tortured him during a recent stay in jail.
The lawsuit was announced about two hours before Zachary Cruz was slated to appear in court Thursday afternoon on an alleged probation violation. The suit targets a Broward County judge, the county sheriff and prosecutors.
The suit alleges that the judge issued an exorbitant $500,000 bail for Cruz based on his older brother’s crimes, while jail officials intimidated and harassed Cruz, deprived him of sleep and forced him to wear a restraint vest around the clock.
“After he posted his $25 bail, authorities conspired to hold him in custody, reset his bond to an excessive $500,000, and then engaged in a campaign of intimidation and torture once he was in the Broward main jail facility,” said a statement from the legal rights group, Nexus Derechos Humanos.
The statement also said, “The sleep deprivation tactics, including the use of intimidating and harassing behavior by guards, the use of a restraint vest 24 hours per day, and the use of 24-hour intense lighting, are procedures that amount to torture under the Geneva Convention, and are behaviors we do not permit soldiers to use in the battlefield.”
CNN has reached out to the judge, prosecutors and sheriff for comment.
Cruz was arrested March 19 on a misdemeanor trespassing charge for skateboarding on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where his brother fatally shot 17 people on February 14.
At a March 29 court hearing, the younger Cruz was sentenced to six months’ probation. He was also ordered to wear a GPS monitor, to stay away from the campus and to have no contact with any of the Parkland victims or their family members.
Cruz was arrested again Tuesday night and booked into Palm Beach County Jail, the jail website said.
According to an arrest warrant, the 18-year-old violated his probation Saturday by operating an SUV without a driver’s license and by being close to a school where he was not enrolled.
Cruz was spotted early Saturday afternoon about 25 feet from a parking lot for Park Vista Community High School in Lake Worth, Florida, according to law enforcement documents. The warrant cites two possible probation violations: One demanding he refrain from breaking any laws and another mandating Cruz must avoid school campuses.
“We adamantly deny these new allegations and look forward to defending our position in court,” said Cruz’s attorney, Mark Lowry.
A former attorney of his questioned whether Cruz violated the condition about being too close to a school.
“He was ordered not to actually go on any schools. So (the sheriff’s office) should not be violating him for going near a school when he was never ordered not to do that,” said Joseph Kimok, who represented Cruz on the original trespassing charge.