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Reports: Orlando, Police Officers Face Lawsuit in Wake of Pulse Massacre

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Jun 8, 2018

As the second anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub massacre approaches, 31 police officers in Orlando, Florida - and the city itself - face a federal lawsuit that claims an officer moonlighting as club security "abandoned his post" and then shied away from entering the premises as shots rang out and victims died by the dozen, ABC News reported.

The suit also contends that officers responding to the mass shooting unlawfully detained victims who fled the scene seeking safety.

"Virtually every victim they could get their hands on who wasn't shot or dead, they basically arrested them," attorney Solomon Radner told ABC News, speaking about the police. Those fleeing the shooting, Radner said, "were not free to leave, they were not free to call their loved ones, they were not even free to go to the bathroom or to get water."

Meantime, Radner said, the shooter was allowed to continue his murderous rampage while officers lingered outsider the club.

"Instead of doing their job, they worried about themselves, they stayed outside, they worried only about their own safety, knowing that people were literally getting mowed down by the dozens just a few feet away," Radner claimed.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, crried out the rampage on June 12, 12016. At one point, Mateen took hostages and retreated to a restroom. The ensuing standoff lasted for over three hours, a story at the Washington Post recollected. In the end, police killed Mateen - but not before the gunman had claimed 49 lives, many of them LGBTQ and Latinx.

Officer Adam Gruler was cited by name in the suit. Feted as a hero for having engaged the killer in an exchange of gunfire, Gruler is painted by the suit as negligent and having "abandoned his post," allowing the gunman to enter the club. The suit also alleges that he was unwilling to confront Mateen, staying outside as the shooter continued to fire on club patrons.

Family members of some of the victims spoke at a June 7 press conference, the Washington Post article said.

"It pains me to think my brother might still be alive if the defendants in the lawsuit acted differently," Berto Capo, whose brother Luis died in the rampage, said. "What if the Pulse security guard stopped the shooter from ever coming inside Pulse? Would my brother still be alive? What if the Orlando police officers who responded to the shooting were aggressive with the plan to rescue hostages and victims and killed the shooter? Would my brother still be alive?"

"More than 35 victims have signed on as plaintiffs," CBS News reported.

The city and police department issued a statement in which they said they could not "comment on the substance of the litigation," CBS News reported.

"On the morning of June 12, 2016, federal, state and local law enforcement officers and first responders put themselves in harm's way to save as many lives as possible," the statement continued. "Our first responders are committed to the safety of this community, and they stand ready to protect and serve."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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