BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. — A Broward Sheriff’s deputy fired for hiding behind his truck and then driving away during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School should be reinstated with back pay, an arbitrator ruled Monday.
Deputy Josh Stambaugh was fired by Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony in June 2019 for his inaction during the 2018 massacre. Tony had replaced Sheriff Scott Israel just five months prior.
Similar to the reinstatement of Sergeant Brian Miller back in May, Stambaugh’s reinstatement is based on a technicality, according to The Sun-Sentinel. The arbitrators ruled the sheriff’s office failed to fire both Miller and Stambaugh in a timely fashion, violating the deputies’ due-process rights.
In Miller’s case, the arbitrator also ruled the Internal Affairs investigator who wrote the report that led to Miller’s firing failed to follow the rules of the officer’s Bill of Rights when it did not state that the facts in the report “are true.” Instead, the investigator wrote, “these are the results.”
For Stambaugh, the arbitrator found the sheriff terminated him 13 days past a deadline that the state allows for punishing law enforcement officers once an investigation has been completed. For Miller, it was two days past the deadline.
In a statement sent to the Sun-Sentinel on Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said the arbitrator’s decision was a bad one and it intends to explore legal options.
“Once again, an arbitrator with no connection or association with Broward County has made a flawed decision to reinstate a deputy who was terminated for his response to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018,” said the sheriff’s office’s general counsel. “The arbitrator ruled on a procedural issue that BSO allegedly took too long to conduct the investigation, instead of addressing Joshua Stambaugh’s failures and holding him accountable for his lack of response during the [Marjory Stoneman Douglas] massacre.”
The sheriff’s office has 90 days to appeal the decision on Stambaugh and has filed an appeal in Miller’s case. A hearing for Miller is scheduled for next month. A third employee who was also fired, Deputy Edward Eason, is set for arbitration later this year.
In total, eight deputies with the Broward Sheriff’s Office failed to enter the school as a former student opened fire, killing 17 people and injuring an equal number.
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