Survivors and victims’ family members of the Pulse nightclub massacre filed a lawsuit in a Florida federal court on Thursday against the responding police officers and the city of Orlando for violating the Constitution and neglecting to do more to stop the shooter.
The lawsuit names Officer Adam Gruler, claiming that he knowingly “abandoned his post” to ensure his own safety and demonstrated “a total lack of concern for the dozens of patrons in the club, whom he was personally charged with protecting.”
Gruler, an Orlando police officer who was working an extra-duty shift when the shooting occurred, was the first to exchange gunfire with the shooter and was subsequently hailed as a hero, reports The Washington Post. He was honored with the “Pulse Valor Award” by the Orlando Police Department and later invited to the White House’s State Of The Union address by Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida.
Defendants in the lawsuit also include 30 unnamed police officers who allegedly either remained outside the club, thereby failing to neutralize the shooter, or unlawfully detained uninjured patrons for hours after fleeing gunfire.
The City of Orlando is also listed as a defendant and is accused of violating the civil rights of the Pulse nightclub patrons for insufficiently training and supervising the responding officers. (RELATED: Orlando Nightclub Victim Families Sue Facebook, Twitter, Google For Providing ‘Material Support’ To ISIS)
Thirty-nine victims signed on as plaintiffs, including the estates of nine individuals killed in the attack.
The shooting occurred in June 2016 when Omar Mateen opened fire in the nightclub, leaving 49 people dead and another 53 wounded. Mateen spoke to 911 dispatch multiple times during the incident, where he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. After the three-hour standoff he was killed in a shootout with police.
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