Parkland school shooting survivor gains rights to gunman’s name in unique civil settlement | CNN (2024)

Parkland school shooting survivor gains rights to gunman’s name in unique civil settlement | CNN (1)

Sheriff Scott Israel holds the hand of Anthony Borges in 2018.


A survivor of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, now owns the rights to the gunman’s name, according to a new settlement agreement that also stipulates the shooter must donate his brain for scientific study.

As part of the settlement, the shooter agreed to transfer the rights to his name, Nikolas Cruz, for use in any production, movie, book, television, cable TV, or other media. The gunman,who is serving a life sentencewithout the possibility of parole, is barred from giving any interviews without the express written consent of shooting survivor Anthony Borges, according to the settlement.

The gunman, who no longer has legal representation, declined to have an attorney review the settlement, Borges’ attorney Alex Arreaza said.

Borges was shot five times during the February 14, 2018, massacre that left 17 students and staff members dead. At 15 years old, he was the most gravely wounded of the 17 shooting survivors. Borges,who barricaded a door with his body, suffered extensive injuries to his legs and torso, including the removal of a third of his lung. He spent weeks in the hospital recovering.

Borges settled his civil lawsuit with the shooter weeks before the case was scheduled for trial next month.

“We wanted complete accountability,” Arreaza told CNN. “People sit in prison and don’t have things to do. They get bored. We wanted to shut him down completely. His story will be told by the victims, not by him.”

Courtesy Marie Laman Related article A student who faced the Parkland shooter is wheeled back into school by the officer who saved him

The settlement prevents the gunman from talking to the media or making money by telling his story. “It took a lot to coordinate all that,” Arreaza said. “Our objective was to get closure for Anthony and his family.”

The settlement is similar to the “Son of Samlaw” passed in New York in the 1970s after the conviction of serial killer David Berkowitz. The law prevents criminals from profiting from books or shows about their crimes by allowing states to seize any proceeds and use them to compensate victims’ families. Similar laws have been invoked many times, but in 1991 the US Supreme Court ruled that they infringed on First Amendment rights.

“Anthony doesn’t want to walk in his house one day and see a Netflix special that (the gunman) was talking about his thoughts on what he did,” Arreaza said. “This was a way we could shut it down. Anthony ultimately has control.”

Arreaza said he is not worried about enforcing the settlement, now or in the future. “If (the shooter) goes to give an interview now, he might be able to slip one under the wire,” he said. “But we’re going to have the power to go back into court and shut him down. He will be more trouble ten years from now when he starts getting bored.”

The settlement also requires the gunman to donate his body, including his brain, to science. According to court documents, “(the shooter) agrees to participate in any scientific, physiological, psychological and/or anthropological study and upon death agrees that his physical body, including all organs and brain, will be donated to an institution of Anthony Borges’ choosing for scientific study in an effort to help prevent such tragic events from ever happening again.”

“Hopefully, you can find something from that and prevent future incidents,” Arreaza said. “Maybe something can help, but it won’t happen unless it’s studied.”

Scot Peterson sits at the defense table during closing arguments in his trial on Monday. Amy Beth Bennett/Pool/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP Related article Jury ends 3rd day of deliberations over ex-Parkland school resource officer’s fate in a rare trial over police conduct in a mass shooting

The gunman agreed to the settlement terms during a Zoom call. Borges did not participate, but his father did.

Court documents show the gunman also agreed to assign any financial interest in any insurance policies he stands to benefit from to Borges. The shooter was named as the beneficiary in at least one insurance policy from his adoptive mother, estimated at$430,000.

This is not the first civil settlement reached in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. In 2021, the Broward County Public School District paidmore than $26 millionto the shooting victims and families of the 17 people killed. Borges received $1.25 million. There are still pending civil lawsuits against former School Resource Officer Scot Peterson and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

More than six years after the shooting, Borges, now 21, is working to move on with his life. He still lives in South Florida and testified in the shooter’s trial in 2022 and Peterson’s criminal trial last year. Peterson was acquitted of criminal charges for failing to confront the gunman.

Borges’ family did not want him to endure another trial, so they sought a settlement. “He’s healed physically, but the PTSD is still a real problem,” Arreaza said. “We were concerned that the trial and everything that comes with it would push him back further.”

Before the shooting, Borges planned to play soccer professionally in Brazil. That won’t happen now due to the severity of his injuries. He moved to a new city in South Florida, and Arreaza said he was glad that the 1200 Building on the high school’s campus was being demolished.

“Every time he drove by there, it brought back memories,” Arreaza said. “He could just hear things in his head. He’s very glad to see it torn down.”

Parkland school shooting survivor gains rights to gunman’s name in unique civil settlement | CNN (2024)
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