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Supreme Court halts release of Parkland video

The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday at least temporarily blocked the release of surveillance video related to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as a legal battle continues about whether the footage should be turned over to media organizations.

A panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal last month ruled that media organizations should receive the security-camera footage from the afternoon when a gunman killed 17 people at the Parkland school. But the Broward County School Board and the Broward County State Attorney’s Office appealed to the Supreme Court and asked for a stay to halt the release.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday approved the stay while it considers the underlying issues in the case.

Some footage from the school was released in March, but media organizations expanded the request as they sought additional information about the response of law-enforcement officers to the Feb. 14 shooting. The School Board objected to the additional request, pointing to concerns that the video could divulge security vulnerabilities on the school’s campus. Also, the State Attorney’s Office objected to releasing the additional footage, saying it was part of an active criminal investigation.

But the appeals court rejected both arguments and said the Broward Sheriff’s Office must release the footage. The appeals court pointed, in part, to what is known as a “good cause” exception to a law that typically shields the release of information about security systems. In going to the Supreme Court, the School Board and State Attorney’s Office took issue with the “good cause” reasoning.

“Critically, the release of the video has the potential to impact the safety of nearly 70,000 students in Broward County by releasing video that not only shows the capabilities of the existing video surveillance systems being used district-wide, but the vulnerabilities as well,” the School Board argued in its motion for a stay.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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