Brother of Parkland shooter alleges 'intimidation and torture'


A Florida judge, a sheriff's captain and other officials conspired to keep the brother of mass killer Nikolas Cruz in jail, and engaged in a campaign of "intimidation and torture," a lawsuit claims.

"Fear" drove certain law enforcement officials to trample Zachary Cruz's constitutional rights because he is related to the teen who killed 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Florida and obtained by CNN.

Zachary Cruz was arrested for trespassing after he was found to be riding his skateboard on the Stoneman Douglas campus on March 19, two hours after school had been let out. Officials say he had been told to stay away from the school.

The lawsuit states that the 18-year-old Cruz was kept in jail after his arrest even though his $25 bail was posted. Judge Kim Theresa Mollica, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, then imposed a $500,000 bond for the misdemeanor charge "with no aggravating factors," according to the lawsuit.

Once the high bond was imposed, officials "engaged in a campaign of intimidation and torture," according to the legal rights group Nexus Derechos Humanos.

Broward County Sheriff's Captain Sherea Green, also named in the suit, "condoned and ordered" Zachary Cruz to be committed to a mental institution, "despite his medical records indicating otherwise."

Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz and Assistant State Attorney Sarahnell Murphy are also named in the suit.

Cruz had cooperated during the arrest, and "there is simply no indication of bizarre behavior," the lawsuit states.

"Essentially, because Cruz's brother committed a heinous act that only a severely mentally disturbed person could commit, these Defendants decided that Zachary Cruz must be just as mentally disturbed — despite all signs saying he is not," the lawsuit states. "Broward Health Medical Center agrees that Cruz does not pose a danger to himself or others."

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When Cruz was released back to Captain Green, he was immediately placed on suicide watch at the jail, placed in a weighted suicide vest, "then placed in a room with booming lights that shone 24 hours a day, for the entire five days he was there," according to the lawsuit.

The suit states that Green assigned a "one-on-one" deputy to intimidate Cruz around the clock.

Cruz also visited the jail nurse every day, and she kept telling him "you're not OK," according to the lawsuit. He allegedly spent 240 hours in confinement, 120 of them locked in a cell under constant lighting with little sleep.

"The sleep deprivation tactics, including the use of intimidating and harassing behavior by guards, the use of a restraint vest 24 hours per day, and the use of 24-hour intense lighting are procedures that amount to torture under the Geneva Convention, and are behaviors we do not permit soldiers to use in the battlefield," Nexus Derechos Humanos said in a statement.

To escape these conditions, Cruz took a plea deal that "literally" banned him from all school property in the country, the lawsuit alleges.

"Cruz did not present any danger and had no indications of any danger to the community other than his relationship with Nicholas Cruz," the lawsuit states.

Zachary Cruz was behind bars again this week for violating his probation following the trespassing arrest, but a judge ordered that he be released on Thursday.

Broward County Judge Melinda Brown urged Cruz to stay out of trouble because "they are watching you very closely."

"I want you to be successful," the judge said.

Zachary Cruz had been ordered to stay at least a mile from Stoneman Douglas and to not enter any other school unless enrolled. Prosecutor Sarahnell Murphy said at Thursday's hearing the school proximity violation was being dropped because he never set foot on campus.

"He basically drove by it," she said.

With News Wire Services