FBI Hit with Lawsuits in Parkland Massacre
In all cases in which law enforcement was named as a defendant for failing to render aid to a plaintiff, the government has won under the theory that law enforcement has no intrinsic duty to protect citizens or to act. The theory behind this decision affords law enforcement broad discretion on how and when to act. However, the Parkland Massacre, as emotionally charged as it is, seeks to hold the FBI accountable for allowing Nikolas Cruz to purchase the deadly weapon that he used in the assault on his school.
The lawsuit alleges that the FBI was negligent in authorizing the sale of the AR-15 that Nikolas Cruz purchased and mishandled tips related to the killer’s psychological profile. Will the lawsuit be successful?
The Case Against the FBI
That the FBI was negligent in this instance is not debatable. They were. However, the question is whether or not the FBI had a legal duty of care and can be held liable for failing to exercise that duty of care in a court of law. The answer as it stands is no. There have been several suits brought by various plaintiffs over the years against law enforcement and law enforcement has won all of them with the Supreme Court stating that no such duty of care exists.
As enraging as that likely sounds, the logic behind it practical. If law enforcement can be held liable in these situations, then it reduces their options when handling a case.
In this case, Cruz was able to purchase his AR-15 legally which led to the massacre. Along the way, however, there were several warning signs that Cruz was not stable and would use the weapon to do something unthinkable.
The Facts Against Cruz
Among the red flags that Cruz would use the weapon unlawfully were the fact that Cruz was expelled from the school for fighting. While Cruz had no criminal record and was never adjudicated as a mental defective, the FBI received a tip concerning an individual who turned out to be Cruz after he posted a comment on a YouTube video saying that he was going to be a “professional school shooter”. But the FBI was never able to link Cruz specifically to the comment.
Parents who lost children in the fatal attack are now looking to sue the school district, the safety officer assigned to the school, and the FBI to hold them accountable for their inaction in allowing Cruz to obtain the weapon. While many are calling for stricter gun control policies, Republicans maintain that this is an issue related to mental health.
Cruz was never adjudicated as a mental defective, however, complicating the matter. He never showed signs of schizophrenia, psychosis, or the types of disorders that would land the average person in a psych ward against their will.
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