Parkland shooter wants new jail guard after attack
The guard who was attacked by Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz last month should not be allowed to continue supervising him, Cruz’s lawyers argue in court papers filed Friday.
Defense lawyers want
Sgt. Ray Beltran and Cruz separated for everyone’s safety — the deputy had been getting under Cruz’s skin for weeks before Cruz punched him on Nov. 13 and wrestled away his stun gun, according to defense lawyer Melisa McNeill.
Now that Beltran is a witness against Cruz and the victim in a criminal case, he should no longer be supervising Cruz at the Broward Main Jail, McNeill argued.
In a series of emails obtained by Cruz the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Broward Sheriff’s Office rejected defense efforts to assign another deputy, arguing that inmates don’t get to force the agency’s hand by attacking people they don’t like.
“Sergeant Beltran and Inmate Nikolas Cruz are not on a level playing field. Sergeant Beltran has custody of Inmate Nikolas Cruz,” Lt. Col. James Reyes wrote to McNeill on Nov. 16. “As such, he is responsible for conducting tasks that in fact violate personal space and personal privacy such as pat-downs and strip searches. … I will not allow any inmate in our custody the opportunity to try and manipulate who supervises them and when they do so.”
Cruz is charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and using a stun gun on a law enforcement officer. Those charges are minor compared with the shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. If convicted of the murder charges, he faces the death penalty.
McNeill’s email exchange with Reyes began on Nov. 16 with a question about whether Cruz would be allowed to have visitors. She told BSO that she had warned them of friction between Cruz and Beltran as early as Oct. 1.
Reyes responded that Cruz would spend 30 days in segregated custody, denied visitation and allowed to leave his cell for only an hour a day.
McNeill later explicitly asked for Beltran to be replaced as Cruz’s supervisor.
“Based upon the fact that Sgt. Beltran is a material witness as well as the listed victim in Mr. Cruz’s case I am requesting that Sgt. Beltran not supervise Mr. Cruz,” she wrote. “Under any other circumstances in a pending criminal case the Court would enter a no contact order between a victim and the accused. I am concerned about the safety of everyone involved.”
Reyes turned down the request.
“In 2017 the Broward Sheriff's Office Department of Detention had over 80 incidents of inmate violence against staff. In those incidents staff were material witnesses as well as the listed victim,” he said. “The Department of Detention did not reassign any of the staff that were material witnesses or listed victims in those particular cases. This case will not be handled any differently.”