Police officers responding to the deadly 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando failed in their duties or violated the rights of survivors, according to a new lawsuit against an Orlando police officer acting as the club’s security guard, 30 additional responding officers, and the city of Orlando, as ABC News reports. Only the officer acting as a guard, Adam Gruler, is named in the suit. Plaintiffs include the estates of six people killed at Pulse and nine others who say police illegally detained them as they attempted to flee.
“While people, unarmed, innocent were inside a club getting absolutely massacred by a crazed gunman there were a bunch of people … with guns, with the training and capability to take that shooter out,” the plaintiffs’ attorney Solomon Radner told ABC. “Instead of doing their job, they worried about themselves, they stayed outside, they worried only about their own safety, knowing that people were literally getting mowed down by the dozens just a few feet away.”
After gunman Omar Mateen began firing on clubgoers around 2 a.m. on June 12, 2016, police engaged in a protracted standoff and did not breach the building’s exterior wall until around 5 a.m., according to the department’s investigation. Mateen was killed in a subsequent shootout. The handling of the incident has come under sustained public criticism from those who feel police were too slow to respond to the crisis.
In a joint statement, the city of Orlando and the Orlando Police Department said they had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment on its substance. “Nearly two years after the horrific act of hate inside the Pulse nightclub, our community continues to mourn the 49 lives taken and provide support for all those impacted,” the statement continued. “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.”
The shooting at Pulse, a prominent gay nightclub, killed 49 people and injured 68 more. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.