BREAKING NEWS Homeowner: Storm damage caused Macon house fire Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Brother of Parkland shooter accuses county of 'torture,' files lawsuit

The brother of the Parkland, Florida, school shooter is suing several Broward County officials, saying they violated ...

Posted: May 4, 2018 7:22 AM
Updated: May 4, 2018 7:22 AM

The brother of the Parkland, Florida, school shooter is suing several Broward County officials, saying they violated his Eighth Amendment rights and tortured him during a recent stay in jail.

The lawsuit was announced about two hours before Zachary Cruz appeared in court Thursday afternoon for a probation violation hearing.

Cruz admitted to driving without a license, prosecutors said. He will be released on supervised probation for another five months, after getting credit for time served.

The suit targets Judge Kim Theresa Mollica, State Attorney Michael Satz and Assistant State Attorney Sarahnell Murphy and Broward County Sheriff's Capt. Sherea Green, a member of the jail's executive staff.

CNN has reached out to the defendants for comment. The state attorney's office said, "No comment," and the sheriff's office said it wouldn't comment on ongoing litigation.

Cruz requests a jury trial and seeks punitive damages and expenses, the lawsuit said.

Read the lawsuit for yourself (PDF)

The suit alleges Mollica issued an exorbitant $500,000 bail for Cruz based on his older brother's crimes, while jail officials intimidated and harassed Cruz, deprived him of sleep and forced him to wear a restraint vest around the clock.

Zachary Cruz 'has become a villain because of his name'

"After he posted his $25 bail, authorities conspired to hold him in custody, reset his bond to an excessive $500,000, and then engaged in a campaign of intimidation and torture once he was in the Broward main jail facility," said a statement from legal rights group Nexus Derechos Humanos.

In a news conference Thursday, Mike Donovan, the group's president and CEO, said Cruz was subjected to "horrific constitutional abuses."

The allegations

Once Cruz was taken to jail, according to the suit, Green ordered that Cruz be admitted to a mental institution, despite his records saying he had no mental issues, and despite Cruz behaving reasonably and cooperating with officers during his arrest.

A medical report stated that Cruz had no telephone or car, risked "being released to the streets" and had the community on edge, according to the lawsuit.

The 18-year-old spent five days at the Broward Health Medical Center, which released him without prescribing any medication. Doctors decided Cruz "did not display the signs of a mentally disturbed person," according to the lawsuit. Rather, he "was noted as being pleasant, cooperative and alert," it said.

"Reported sadness was temporary and not clinically troubling," the suit said.

Once he was returned to jail, Cruz was placed on 24-hour suicide watch, and Green "assigned a 'one-on-one' deputy to intimidate Cruz," the lawsuit alleges. He was forced to wear a heavy suicide jacket and endure 24-hour "bright lights," the lawsuit said.

"The sleep deprivation tactics, including the use of intimidating and harassing behavior by guards, the use of a restraint vest 24 hours per day, and the use of 24-hour intense lighting, are procedures that amount to torture under the Geneva Convention, and are behaviors we do not permit soldiers to use in the battlefield," the Nexus Derechos Humanos statement said.

Because of these conditions -- which also included daily visits to a nurse who repeatedly told him, "You're not OK" -- Cruz accepted a plea deal "only to escape this treatment," the lawsuit said.

Original arrest

Cruz was arrested March 19 on a misdemeanor trespassing charge for skateboarding on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where his brother fatally shot 17 people on February 14.

At a March 29 court hearing, the younger Cruz was sentenced to six months' probation. He was also ordered to wear a GPS monitor, to stay a mile away from the campus and to have no contact with any of the Parkland victims, their family members or his brother.

According to the lawsuit, these conditions are too burdensome for Cruz. Denying him interaction with his friends at the high school "removes a major source of social support," and cutting him off from his brother "deprives Cruz of his ability to seek understanding and solace from his family during a difficult time," it said.

Cruz was arrested again Tuesday night and booked into Palm Beach County Jail, the jail website said.

According to an arrest warrant, Cruz violated his probation Saturday by operating an SUV without a driver's license and by being close to a school where he was not enrolled.

Cruz was spotted early Saturday afternoon about 25 feet from a parking lot for Park Vista Community High School in Lake Worth, Florida, according to law enforcement documents. The warrant cites two possible probation violations: One demanding he refrain from breaking any laws and another mandating Cruz must avoid school campuses.

At the court hearing Thursday, prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence for the second charge, because Cruz wasn't technically on the campus.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 117617

Reported Deaths: 3302
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds8050179
DeSoto728580
Harrison549185
Jackson480088
Rankin404686
Madison386194
Lee366582
Forrest311878
Jones296684
Washington2627100
Lafayette255043
Lauderdale2546135
Lamar231940
Oktibbeha204855
Bolivar203979
Neshoba1868111
Lowndes181962
Panola172040
Leflore170688
Sunflower164349
Warren156156
Monroe153873
Pontotoc150620
Marshall148430
Lincoln143359
Pike140656
Copiah139336
Scott127029
Coahoma125837
Union125825
Yazoo123434
Simpson123149
Grenada122939
Tate121039
Itawamba117226
Leake116342
Pearl River116360
Holmes115060
Adams109445
Prentiss109220
Alcorn104512
Wayne102722
George101719
Covington98829
Marion95943
Tippah94924
Newton87227
Hancock86828
Chickasaw86727
Tallahatchie85526
Winston85221
Tishomingo82741
Attala80527
Clarke77053
Clay71022
Jasper69617
Walthall64427
Calhoun63313
Noxubee60217
Smith60216
Yalobusha56416
Montgomery55823
Lawrence54414
Claiborne53916
Tunica53717
Perry52423
Carroll50312
Stone49114
Greene48118
Humphreys45117
Amite42813
Quitman4236
Jefferson Davis42112
Webster37813
Benton36710
Wilkinson34221
Kemper33315
Sharkey28715
Jefferson27910
Franklin2513
Choctaw2096
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 160380

Reported Deaths: 2713
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23769383
Mobile17039318
Tuscaloosa10539141
Montgomery10435199
Madison946798
Shelby756365
Baldwin674369
Lee662465
Calhoun468962
Marshall445251
Etowah436552
Morgan426335
Houston421234
DeKalb351229
Elmore326558
St. Clair307042
Limestone295131
Walker285593
Talladega273937
Cullman260025
Lauderdale237143
Jackson221917
Autauga210331
Colbert208232
Franklin207732
Blount198825
Russell19763
Chilton190932
Dallas188127
Coffee182611
Dale180852
Covington176729
Escambia175331
Clarke138017
Chambers137047
Pike135514
Tallapoosa135387
Marion110331
Barbour10459
Marengo103522
Butler101541
Winston94313
Geneva9357
Lawrence87733
Pickens87418
Bibb85615
Randolph84316
Hale78030
Cherokee76114
Clay75812
Washington75412
Henry7286
Lowndes71728
Monroe66010
Bullock65017
Crenshaw61130
Perry5966
Fayette59413
Cleburne5779
Wilcox57112
Conecuh56513
Macon54120
Lamar5165
Sumter47721
Choctaw39412
Greene34616
Coosa2143
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 59°
Columbus
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 59°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 54°
Starkville
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 55°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather