Suspended Broward Sheriff Scott Israel's Appeal Hearing Underway: Day 1 Recap

Jun 19, 2019

Suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, center, leaves a news conference surrounded by supporters Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after new Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him, over his handling of last February's massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Credit Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

Suspended Broward County sheriff Scott Israel’s appeal hearing is expected to be a three-day affair. Tuesday marked day one, and saw Israel take the stand.

Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Israel from his post for incompetence and negligence in the wake of the February 2018 shooting that claimed the lives of 17 Parkland students and staff. Nicholas Primrose, the governor’s counsel, says Israel failed to properly train his deputies.

“Unlike SWAT officers, who are supposed to engage in active shooter situations and undergo training multiple times a month, Scott Israel’s deputies assigned to schools were not keeping their skills sharp on a monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, or even semi-annual basis,” Primrose said.

Primrose says Broward deputies were trained on a three-year cycle. But Israel’s attorney, Ben Kuehne, is trying to prove his client wasn’t negligent or incompetent in training deputies. He calls DeSantis’ accusation against Israel political “look-back finger-pointing.”

“There is a distinct difference between neglect of duty, obligations required by law, and those set by the position of office, and whim or fancy on the part of a politician,” Kuehne said.

Kuehne questioned several Broward deputies on day one of the hearing, asking them about the agency’s training methods under Israel, among other things. When Israel ultimately took the stand in his own defense, he continued to characterize DeSantis’ motivations as political.

“You can just imagine how demoralizing it was for me and my family, to hear in March, two months – investigations hadn’t even commenced – and I hear a candidate for governor saying ‘I’ll suspend that guy.’ That’s not how America should be run,” Israel said.

Republican U.S. Senator Rick Scott was Florida’s governor at the time of the Parkland shooting. Israel was asked about the former governor by his lawyer.

Kuehne: “Did governor Scott make you a political issue, at all, ever?”

Israel: “Never.”

Day two of the appeal hearing resumed at 8 a.m.