FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami/AP) – Citing harassment and torture at the hands of law enforce, a non-profit civil rights organization plans to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of Zachary Cruz, the brother of confessed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High gunman Nikolas Cruz.
In an email, Nexus Derechos Humanos Attorneys, Inc. claimed Zachary Cruz is being subjected to “intimidation” because of his brother. Nickolas Cruz, 19, is accused of killing 17 at Douglas High on February 14th.
They said their suit will name Broward’s Sheriff, the judge presiding over Zachary Cruz’s case, and county prosecutors.
On March 19th, Zachary Cruz was arrested after he was caught skateboarding on the Douglas High campus after being warned not to return. He was placed on probation after pleading no contest to trespass. Terms of that probation including him staying away from Douglas High and not stepping foot on the property of any other school unless he is enrolled there.
Derechos Humanos Attorneys claim after Cruz posted his $25 bail, “authorities conspired to hold him in custody, reset his bond to an excessive $500,000, and then engaged in a campaign of intimidation and torture once he was in the Broward main jail facility.” They claim while Cruz was in jail he was harassed by the guards who used 24 hour “intense lighting” to induce sleep deprivation. He was also reportedly forced wear a restraint vest.
Earlier this week, Cruz was arrested again for reportedly violating his probation. He was caught 25 feet from a parking lot for Park Visita Community School in Lake Worth and the Broward Sheriff’s Office said he was driving without a license.
Cruz’s new attorney filed a written plea of not guilty to the probation violation allegation Wednesday.
Attorney Joseph Kimok, who represented Cruz on the trespassing charge, said in an email that he said he is “very concerned” about the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s conduct in this latest arrest. First, he said it is “very unusual” for a probation violation to be filed for driving without a license.
He also said Cruz is not banned from being near a school other than Stoneman Douglas.
“We all drive past and walk past schools every day and many public parks are located near schools so I’m concerned if, as it appears, BSO has violated him simply for going near a school. That just wasn’t a condition we agreed to as part of his plea,” Kimok said.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said Cruz’s caretaker reported him because he was driving without a license and insurance. She said violating any law is a violation of probation.
It is interesting to note the Cruz was arrested in Palm Beach County by a Broward Sheriff’s deputy and there are affidavits attached to his arrest warrant from command staff in the sheriff’s office.
Derechos Humanos Attorneys said they decided to get involved because “Zachary’s rights must be protected by the Federal Courts to ensure his safety and security, and to guard against constitutional rights abuses that erode our basic ideals of liberty and justice.”
Cruz is scheduled to appear before a Broward judge at 3 p.m. on Thursday for the alleged probation violation.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)