Deputy Edward Eason has been placed on “restrictive duty” by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, CNN is reporting. The office reportedly made the decision after hearing testimony from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. The commission was formed after 17 students and faculty were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14. While the conversation about how this tragedy could have been prevented is largely focused on gun regulations, further investigation has revealed that officers and authority figures also dropped the ball when it came to saving lives.
Eason, for example, had prior knowledge of Nikolas Cruz, who carried out the shooting. The sheriff’s office had received 23 calls about Cruz or his brother since 2008. These reports were handled both on the phone and in person, with Eason meeting with Cruz’s mother at some points. Further investigation from the sheriff’s department concluded that these instances weren’t handled properly.
Eason is not the first officer to face consequences, however. The high school’s resource officer, Scot Peterson, was suspended without pay as he allegedly waited outside of the building while the shootings occurred rather than entering the school and intervening. He has since resigned from his position. Other faculty members are also facing job changes due to the shooting, with Broward schools announcing earlier this week that Assistant Principals Jeff Morford, Winfred Porter Jr. and Denise Reed, and Security Specialist Kelvin Greenleaf would be taking new jobs at different locations.
As for Eason, he was ordered to surrender his badge and weapon and is not allowed to drive a sheriff’s vehicle or enter a department building. While the sheriff’s office hasn’t gotten into specifics, a spokesperson for the office said that Eason was being suspended due to communication issues with law enforcement and school staff while the shooting was occurring, as well as not taking warning signs regarding Cruz seriously. Cruz has since been charged with 17 counts of first-degree premeditated murder and 17 counts of first-degree attempted murder.
According to Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, Eason was not told personally that his suspension was due to the testimony. Bell believes that sheriff Scott Isreal should face consequences too if Eason is to be punished.
“If it has anything to do with the testimony from the hearing, shouldn’t the sheriff [Scott Israel] be removed?” Bell said. “What about the inaccuracies of the sheriff? Shouldn’t he be placed on restricted duty?”
Eason himself has yet to publicly comment on the situation.