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Parkland cop who was fired for taking cover behind his truck during shooting is reinstated


A sheriff’s deputy who was fired for hiding behind his truck and then driving away during the Parkland school shooting that killed 17 people in 2018 has been reinstated by an arbitrator – the second cop to get his job back in recent months.

Josh Stambaugh should return to the ranks of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and get back-pay after an arbitrator ruled that his firing was improper due to a technicality, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.

According to Florida law, the sheriff’s office fired Stambaugh 13 days past the legal deadline. The so-called ‘180-day rule’ does not allow law enforcement agencies to fire officers beyond six months after an investigation is complete.

Stambaugh was fired in June of last year by Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony after the department conducted investigations into his response to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on February 14, 2018.

Josh Stambaugh, who was fired in June of last year by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office for his response to the Parkland shooting in 2018, has won his arbitration case and was ordered reinstated 

Stambaugh was fired after an investigation revealed that he hid behind his truck and drove away during the shooting rampage at Marjority Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018

The gunman, Nikolas Cruz (seen left with defense attorney Gabe Ermine in May 2019), killed 17 students and staff and wounded 17 others

The gunman, Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 students and staff and wounded 17 more when he entered the high school and opened fire indiscriminately with an AR-15 assault rifle.

Lawyers for Cruz, whose trial was scheduled to start this year but was delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have offered to plead guilty in exchange for state prosecutors pledging not to seek the death penalty.

Stambaugh, a 24-year agency veteran who made $151,954 in 2017, responded to the shooting while working an off-duty shift at a nearby school and while he got out of his truck and put on his bullet proof vest, he remained inactive for about five minutes.

After that point, he took a five-minute journey to a nearby highway and claims it was for the good of the responding officers and victims.

‘I could see the whole side of the school and I had binoculars,’ he later swore in a statement. ‘So, if he was anywhere in that school, on the stairwells, I could, you know, get vision of it and I can advise on the radio.’

This is the second time in recent months that a Broward deputy was reinstated by an arbitrator. Sargeant Brian Miller (pictured), who was fired after ‘failing to coordinate an immediate response’ to the Parkland shooting in 2018 and instead cowered behind a car, won his case in May

Despite receiving active shooter training in February 2016, Stamburgh had said in an interview he couldn’t recall the last time he brushed up on how to handle a situation like Parkland.

Tony was hired by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis five months earlier to replace Sheriff Scott Israel.

DeSantis removed Israel from office due to his office’s handling of the shooting.

Israel pledged to run for re-election to the sheriff’s position, but he was narrowly defeated last month in the Democratic Party primary.

This is the second time in the last four months that a Broward deputy who was fired for his response to the Parkland shooting has been ordered reinstated by an arbitrator.

In May, Sergeant Brian Miller, who was also hiding behind a car during the mass shooting, was reinstated with full back pay and seniority.

He was terminated from the Broward Sheriff’s Office in June 2019 after being suspended for several months.

During the investigation, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission found that ‘Miller failed to coordinate or direct deputies’ actions and did not direct or coordinate an immediate response into the school.’

‘Sergeant Miller’s actions were ineffective and he did not properly supervise the scene,’ the report added.

An arbitrator ruled that Miller’s due process rights were violated when he was fired and dismissed the case against him.

Like Stambaugh, Miller was fired past the legal deadline for the office to do so, the arbitrator ruled.

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony removed Stambaugh, Miller, and another deputy, Edward Eason, for their failure to respond to the shooting 

Tony was named sheriff by Governor Ron DeSantis, who removed his predecessor, Scott Israel (pictured January 11, 2019), over his handling of the massacre

‘Once again, an arbitrator with no connection or association with Broward County has made a flawed decision to reinstate a deputy who was terminated for his response to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018,’ she sheriff’s office told the Sun Sentinel.

‘The arbitrator ruled on a procedural issue that BSO allegedly took too long to conduct the investigation, instead of addressing Joshua Stambaugh’s failures and holding him accountable for his lack of response during the [Marjory Stoneman Douglas] massacre.

‘The Broward Sheriff’s Office will explore all legal options to address this erroneous decision.’

A third deputy fired by Tony for his actions during the Parkland shooting, Edward Eason, is due to have his own arbitration hearing later this year.

The head of the union representing sheriff’s deputies in Broward County, Jeff Bell, said he believes Eason’s firing was also done beyond the 180-day rule and will be overturned.

‘Today’s arbitration win now clears two of the three terminated deputies from wrongful termination from the [Marjory Stoneman Douglas] shooting,’ Bell said.

‘The waste of taxpayer money on cases where the agency knows it violated Florida State Statutes should be questioned.’

Parkland victims remembered: The 14 students and three teachers who died on February 14, 2018

Jaime Guttenberg, 14, (left) was described by relatives as a ‘kind-hearted, sweet’ girl. Senior Nicholas Dworet (right) was a gifted swimmer who had his sights set on 2020 Tokyo Olympics success. His devastated college student girlfriend is among those grieving his death. Friends said he was not just a talented athlete, but a ‘good guy’ who will be missed

Martin Duque, 14, (left) was a freshman. Meadow Pollack, 18, (right) was preparing for college

Cara Loughran, 14, (left) loved Irish dancing and the beach. Alyssa Alhadeff, 15, (right) was eulogized by her mother who said she was a talented soccer player and creative mind. ‘All she had to offer the world was love… I just sent her to school and she was shot and killed’

Luke Hoyer (left), 15, was described as a ‘precious’ child by his grandparents, who said he was a ‘good kid’ who ‘never got in trouble’. Joaquin Oliver, 17, (right), was a Venezuelan immigrant who came to the US with his family for a ‘better future’

Gina Montalto, 15, (left) was described as a ‘light and joy’. She volunteered at a local project called The Friendship Initiative as a buddy for children with special needs. Alaina Petty, 14, (right) was also killed. Her Mormon church said she was a ‘valiant’ member

Carmen Schentrup, 16, (left) was a gifted student who last year was named as a semifinalist in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program. ROTC student Peter Wang, 15, (right) also died. Students said that Peter held the door open for others while they fled

Alex Schachter, 14, (left) was described by his father Max as a ‘sweetheart of a child’ who ‘just wanted to do well and please his parents’. Helena Ramsey, 17, (right) was described by relatives as a ‘reserved’ and studious girl who was due to go to college next year

Geography Scott Beigel, 35, (left) was shot dead as he tried to lock the door of his classroom again after letting a group of fleeing students in to hide. They were running away from the gunman. Athletic director Chris Hixon, 49, (right) was also killed shielding students

Aaron Feis, 37, (center) died acting as a human shield. The track coach had thrown himself on top of the kids to stop the bullets from hitting him. He was a former student and was also a security guard at the school where he had worked for eight years

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