TAMPA (WFLA) – Suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel began making his case for reinstatement Tuesday morning.
The Governor removed Israel from office for what he called incompetence and neglect of duty over his response to the Parkland shooting, but Israel’s legal team is calling the removal a political stunt.
Suspending Israel was one of Governor Ron DeSantis’ first actions after taking office in January.
But it’s up to the Senate to uphold the suspension.
Arguing their case before a Special Master, the Governor’s lawyers argued negligence and incompetence on Sheriff Israel’s part lead to more deaths during the Parkland shooting.
“Scott Israel failed to properly train and prepare his deputies for real life, active shooter situations,” said Nicholas Primrose the attorney representing the Governor’s office.
But Israel’s attorneys Benedict Kuehne and Stuart Kaplan argued the Sheriff ordered more training for active shooter situations than is required under law.
“This is sad, to have politicized the lived of children,” said Kuehne.
DeSantis has been vocal in calling on the Senate to uphold the suspension.
“It’s important that the senators go on record and let people know, ya know, whether they think people like Sheriff Israel are behaving in ways that are appropriate,” said DeSantis.
The Senate President said the Senate will make its decision independent of the Governor’s desires.
Israel’s attorneys hope that’s the case, but say there are signs politics may bleed over into a decision.
They cite the decision by the Special Master to go ahead with the final hearing before Israel’s legal team could obtain documents related to the arrest of Scot Petersen, the former SRO at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“Because are they concerned that once all this information becomes public, would that show that there was a rush to judgement here and that the removal was improper,” said Kaplan.
Once the final hearing concludes, the special master will make his recommendation to the Senate.
A final decision from the Senate could come as early as Fall 2019 when the Legislature begins committee meetings.