The Florida Senate voted Wednesday to permanently remove suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel over his department’s response to the Parkland mass shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.
“I hope the outcome provides some measure of relief to the Parkland families that have been doggedly pursuing accountability,” Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said in a statement after the vote. The Senate voted mostly down party lines in the 25-15 decision.
All five state senators representing Broward County voted to keep Israel in office.
“That was very difficult to watch. They cried with us. They might even have seen my child dead, and so it was very difficult, and I know the Broward County voters are watching,” Parkland parent and Broward School Board member Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was killed in the shooting, told the Sun Sentinel.
On Monday, the Florida Senate Rules Committee recommended the removal of Israel, who was accused of mismanaging the response at the scene of the shooting, as well as failing to properly investigate prior threats against the shooter.
Democrats have largely backed Israel during the process, which was initiated when DeSantis suspended Israel in January after campaigning against him during the Florida general election.
State Senator Perry Thurston told fellow Democratic lawmakers earlier Wednesday that “if I was [sic] a parent I would want vengeance too” but claimed “95 percent of Broward County feels differently about the attempt to remove the sheriff.”
Gary Farmer, another Broward County Democrat, said that emotions played a role in the outcome of the case.
“Because of the horrendous and ghastly nature of that event, it’s easy to be moved by the emotion and the pleas of the parents who are still grieving and who forever will be grieving for the loss of their children,” Farmer said. “We are a country founded on rule of law. We cannot base our decision on emotion.”