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Pulse victims file federal civil rights lawsuit against city of Orlando, Orlando police

Victims, survivors former Eatonville police officer sue city

ORLANDO, Fla. – More than 35 victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre and their lawyers announced Thursday that they have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Orlando, the Orlando Police Department and the OPD officer working security the night of the shooting.

The tragedy took place nearly two years ago on June 12, 2016. Forty-nine victims died and 53 others were hurt.

The more than 35 victims who are  suing include family members of those killed and an Orlando police officer who responded to the shooting, according to Solomon Radner, the attorney representing the victims.

The lawsuit filed Thursday morning alleges that the defendants -- the city of Orlando, Orlando Police Department and Orlando police Officer Adam Gruler -- violated the constitutional rights of those injured and killed in the shooting.

Eight victims, six people who were shot and survived, 21 people who were at the club during the shooting and former Eatonville police officer Omar Delgado are named among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Dalgado was one of the first officers to respond to the shooting at Pulse, pulling people to safety. He was later fired from the department when he could not return to work because of his PTSD.

“The city of Orlando demonstrated deliberate indifference to these people by not training their officers," Radner said.

A spokesperson for the Orlando Police Department said they have not formally been served the lawsuit and couldn't comment on it.

"On the morning of June 12, 2016, federal, state and local law enforcement officers and first responders put themselves in harm’s way to save as many lives as possible," OPD said in a statement. "Our first responders are committed to the safety of this community, and they stand ready to protect and serve." 

Gruler was the off-duty, in-uniform officer who was working security at Pulse the night of the shooting.

During the federal trial of the shooter's wife, Noor Salman's defense attorneys showed evidence that Gruler left his post before the shooting, when he was pursuing an underage person who was in the club.

"If he would have been where he was supposed to be" Gruler could have engaged the gunman, Omar Mateen, Radner said.

The lawsuit also alleges that survivors who were uninjured and running from the club were "rounded up and taken to a law enforcement facility" where they weren't allowed bathroom breaks, food, water or able to contact their families.

Radner said this was a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

"You are not allowed to be forcibly detained" even though a crime took place, Radner said.

Several of the plaintiffs spoke Thursday during the news conference announcing the lawsuit, including survivor Keinon Carter, who was shot multiple times and one of the last victims to leave the hospital.

"Those of us who were at the wrong place at the wrong time still have rights that cannot be infringed upon," Carter said, leaning on a cane he requires to walk.

Sandy Roberts, who was at the club with her wife the night of the shooting, said compared with what other victims lost she considers herself lucky.

Wigberto “Berto” Capo, the brother of shooting victim Luis Omar Capo, blames the Orlando Police Department's response for his brother's death.

"What if Pulse security guards stopped the shooter from ever coming inside? Would my brother still be alive?" Capo said. "What if Orlando had better-trained police officers? Would my brother still be alive?"

The nightclub was not named "because they are not an appropriate defendant in this case," Radner said, adding, however, the club and its owners could be named in a future lawsuit.


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