FORT LAUDERDALE (Florida Record) — The brother of accused Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz has filed a federal lawsuit against a Broward County sheriff's captain and local judiciary officials over allegations he was tortured following an arrest in March.
"At bottom, fear drove these defendants to trample the constitutional rights of Zachary Paul Cruz, because he is related to a man who committed a most heinous act," said the lawsuit filed May 3 by Cruz's younger brother.
Cruz filed suit in U.S. District Court for Florida's Southern District Fort Lauderdale Division against Broward County Sheriff's Office Cap. Sherea Green, Broward County state attorney general Michael J. Satz, assistant Broward County state attorney general Sarahnell Murphy and Seventh Judicial Circuit Judge Kim Theresa Mollica.
Cruz said he filed the case "to vindicate his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and all other applicable laws," the lawsuit said.
Zachary Cruz has been arrested at least twice since his brother Nikolas Cruz confessed to the killing of 17 and injuring as many others in Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Zachary Cruz's lawsuit specifically refers to his arrest March 19 at the Parkland high school by Broward County sheriff deputies "on a simple misdemeanor trespass charge, that carried with it a court scheduled bond of just $25," the lawsuit said.
"Once Cruz arrived at Broward County Jail, his constitutional rights vanished,"the suit said. "The starting point: Cruz's $25 bail was posted at approximately 9:54 pm on the day of his arrest. His records show that about an hour later, a decision was made that Cruz was in danger of being released 'into the streets'. So instead of doing what the Constitution and law require - releasing Mr. Cruz on his own recognizance because he was age 18, defendant Green condoned, ordered, and ratified Cruz's continued, unlawful detention in Broward County Jail."
Mollica then handed down an exorbitant $500,000 bail order, "a bond that was literally 20,000 times greater than the court scheduled bond of $25 - for solely a misdemeanor charge with no aggravating factors according to all documentation of the charge," the lawsuit said. While jailed, Zachary Cruz said he was intimidated and harassed by jail officials who deprived him of sleep and required him to wear a heavy "suicide" restraint vest that he had to constantly wear until he agreed to an unconscionably obtained plea deal."
"He was placed under constant, bright lighting 24 hours a day," the lawsuit said. "This lighting was not dimmed at night and severely interfered with Cruz's ability to sleep, as did the suicide vest."
Zachary Cruz was released March 29 after he was sentenced to six months' probation.
"Cruz did not present any danger and had no indications of any danger to the community other than his relationship to Nicholas Cruz," the lawsuit said. "While his release from jail may have made the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their parents apprehensive, this does not increase any danger posed by Cruz. The students deserve to be able to attend school without fear but they do not have the right for Cruz to be jailed to ensure that lack of fear."
The lawsuit was filed by Dallas S. Lepier, an attorney with Nexus Derechos Humanos Attorneys in Atlanta, under Case No. 0:18-cv-60995-KMM.