FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The future of the three deputies who were fired for their failures in the Parkland school massacre may come down to a key phrase left off investigative paperwork: "Under penalty of perjury, I declare that I have read the foregoing document and that the facts in it are true."
Under Florida law, internal affairs investigators must swear, among other things, that they've read reports about officers in their entirety and that the forms are accurate. But the version of the oath that the Broward Sheriff's Office used on its forms over the past decade omitted that one line - and no one had ever argued there was a need to include it.
Now, in one of the biggest police misconduct cases in South Florida, its omission may very well determine whether Sgt. Brian Miller and Deputies Joshua Stambaugh and Edward Eason get their jobs back.
The words also could end up costing more than $400,000 in back pay to the deputies, plus an unknown amount in legal fees.
The three deputies became symbols of the failed police response on the day when a teenage gunman murdered 17 staff and students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Miller stood outside the school as shots rang out and his subordinates ran in.
Eason says he stayed on the school's periphery, unsure of where the gunshots were coming from. But body camera footage recorded him telling people he heard shots fired - and pointing toward the school.
After Stambaugh arrived at the school, he drove to a nearby highway and looked on through field glasses.
Sheriff's Internal Affairs Sgt. Carlos Carrillo completed a report April 8, 2019, into the actions of the three men. State law says that in order for the report to be completed, the investigating officer has to sign a written oath on the last page. Carrillo signed the oath on Page 123, the last page of the report.
But it didn't include the crucial line, and the union representing the deputies called the agency out on it.