ORLANDO | A civil rights lawsuit was filed in federal court June 7 by more than 35 Pulse survivors and family members against Orlando police officers and the City of Orlando just days before the two-year mark of the nightclub tragedy.
In a press conference, attorney Solomon Radner, with three of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, spoke to a room of reporters on the reasons the lawsuit was being filed.
“This lawsuit is a civil rights lawsuit,” Radnor said. “It’s a lawsuit that is being filed specifically to hold law enforcement and the city of Orlando responsible for their actions and inactions on this fateful night almost two years ago.”
The lawsuit specifically names Adam Gruler, the off-duty police officer who was working as security at Pulse the night of the shooting, and 30 anonymous officers, referred to in the suit as “John Does” 1-30.
The suit alleges that 20 of the “John Does” remained outside of Pulse instead of going inside to capture the shooter. The other 10 “John Does” are accused of unlawfully detaining survivors.
“They rounded these people up, they detained them, they transported them to a law enforcement facility and did not allow these people to go free. They did not allow them to call their loved ones. They didn’t allow them to take bathroom breaks or get drinks,” Radner said.
Radner states that by officers detaining Pulse survivors that they violated their fourth amendment rights.
“Officers of the law, even in stressful situations, are not allowed to violate people’s rights,” he said. “You’re not allowed to be arrested unless there is either probable cause or at least reasonable suspicion that you engaged in criminal activity.”
Holding the Pulse survivors was one of a four-point cause of action Radnor laid out for reporters as to why the lawsuit was being filed. Radner states that Gruler caused “conduct that shocks the conscience” when left his post at the door of Pulse allowing the shooter to enter the building and remained outside once the shooting began. Radner also states that survivors had personal property taken from them, including cell phones and vehicles, that were not returned.
The suits fourth cause of action directly holds the City of Orlando responsible stating that the officers were not properly trained in their duties.
“It’s called monell liability, it’s municipal liability,” Radner said. “Essentially what we have to establish, and what I believe is established by the facts and by the evidence that has come out and will continue to come out during the course of this litigation, is that the city of Orlando demonstrated deliberate indifference to these people’s rights as well as to the rights of many others by a.) not training their officers and b.) by encouraging and approving and authorizing the type of conduct that we’re suing them for in the first three counts of our lawsuit.”
Plaintiff Keinon Carter, one of the last Pulse survivors to leave the hospital, spoke to reporters at the press conference.
“I am a plaintiff to this lawsuit because I believe victims of [the Pulse shooting] deserve better. We deserve better security protection than what was provided. We deserved to be rescued sooner by law enforcement officers who made [the] strategic decision to wait despite [the shooter] continuing to shoot and kill nightclub patrons. We deserve to be recipients of better training by the city of Orlando’s Police Department in connection with active shooters situations,” Carter said.
Owners of the Pulse nightclub have not been named in the federal lawsuit; however Rander states that it is entirely possible they will name them as defendants in the future if there is a claim filed in state court alleging negligence or wrongful death.
Compensation for damages has not been included in the lawsuit. Radner stated that they are comfortable allowing a jury to decide a monetary amount.
Image from YouTube.