BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. — A federal lawsuit was filed on Wednesday against Broward County officials for the "torture and violation of Zachary Cruz's Constitutional rights."
Cruz, 18, the younger brother of Parkland, Florida, school shooter Nikolas Cruz, was arrested in March for trespassing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where his brother carried out the attack. Cruz was arrested again on Tuesday, May 1, for violating his probation.
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The group representing Cruz, Nexus Services Inc. provides services and recourses to help detained persons. The pro bono civil-rights law firm announced the funding and filing of the federal lawsuit on Wednesday, arguing that Cruz has been unfairly treated because of his brother's actions. The suit is being filed against the Broward County Sheriff, a Broward County Judge, and Broward County Prosecutors.
"For torturing Zachary Cruz, violating his constitutional rights, and engaging in an extortive campaign of intimidation because of the identity of his brother," Nexus wrote in a press release. "After he 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."
The legal aid group alleges that Cruz was tortured at the hands of Broward County authorities. They say he received harassment from guards while he was held at the Broward Main Jail in Fort Lauderdale. The group claims that guards used sleep deprivation tactics as well as a restraint vest on Cruz 24-hours per day.
"Given the impossibly high bail, coupled with dehumanizing treatment in jail, Cruz was ultimately and unjustly forced to accept a guilty plea, just to escape the horrors of custody in the Broward main jail facility," the group says.
Nexus Services Inc. plans to hold a news conference on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the Broward County Justice Center in Fort Lauderdale to discuss the lawsuit.