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Ex-Deputy Charged for Failure to Act During Parkland Shooting

Scot Peterson was also formally terminated from sheriff's office
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 4, 2019 3:51 PM CDT
In this Feb. 18, 2015, file frame from video from Broward County Public Schools, school resource officer Scot Peterson talks during a school board meeting of Broward County, Fla.   (Broward County Public Schools via AP, File)

(Newser) – The former Florida deputy who failed to confront a gunman during last year's Parkland school massacre was arrested Tuesday on 11 criminal charges related to his actions, prosecutors announced. Broward State Attorney Mike Satz said in a statement that 56-year-old Scot Peterson faces child neglect, culpable negligence, and perjury charges that carry a combined potential prison sentence of nearly 100 years, the AP reports. Peterson, then a Broward deputy, was on duty as the school resource officer during the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School but never went inside while bullets were flying. Seventeen people died and 17 others were wounded in the attack. Peterson's bail was set at $102,000, Satz said. Once released, Peterson will be required to wear a GPS monitor and surrender his passport, and will be prohibited from possessing a firearm, the prosecutor said.

Peterson lawyer Joseph DiRuzzo III didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. In the past, he has defended Peterson's conduct as justified under the circumstances. The charges follow a 14-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, according to that agency. "The FDLE investigation shows former deputy Peterson did absolutely nothing to mitigate the MSD shooting that killed 17 children, teachers, and staff and injured 17 others," FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen in an email statement said. "There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives." Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said Peterson has been formally terminated, although he announced his retirement shortly after the shooting. Nikolas Cruz, 20, faces the death penalty if convicted of the first-degree murder charges filed in the attack; he is expected to go on trial in early 2020. (Read more Parkland school shooting stories.)

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