Scot Peterson Trial: Deputy Found Not Guilty Over Response to Parkland School Shooting
Scot Peterson, 60, had been charged with negligence in connection with the massacre that left 17 dead and he couldn't hold in his emotions as the not guilty verdict was read.
Tears flowed in court Thursday as the sheriff's deputy who was accused of not confronting the shooter during the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, was found not guilty.
Scot Peterson, 60, was charged with negligence over his response to the massacre that left 17 dead and 17 injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb.14, 2018. He could not contain his emotions as the not guilty verdict was read.
Peterson, a former Broward County sheriff’s deputy, was acquitted of seven counts of child neglect and three counts of culpable negligence for the deaths and injuries of 10 people on the third floor of the building where the shooting occurred.
Peterson was also found not guilty of one count of perjury. He had claimed to the police that he heard only a few gunshots and saw no children fleeing, prosecutors said.
“I’ve got my life back,” Peterson told reporters outside court, describing the years since the shooting as “an emotional roller coaster.”
During the trial, Peterson’s attorney said his client didn’t enter the building because he couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from, and he didn’t know how many shooters there were, according to the New York Times.
During closing arguments, his attorney said his client called a “code red” to lock down the school and did the best he could under stressful conditions with limited information and poor radios, according to the Times.
"The only person to blame was that monster," Peterson told reporters outside court Thursday, referring to the school shooter responsible for the killing, a former student who last year was sentenced to life in prison.
“It wasn’t any law enforcement, nobody on that scene, from BSO, Coral Springs. Everybody did the best they could,” he said. “We did the best we could with the information we had, and God knows we wish we had more at that point.”
Peterson was the lone armed resource officer assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at the time of the shooting. Many in the community were outraged by what they perceived was inaction on Peterson's part referring to him as “the coward in Broward,” according to The New York Times.
After the shooting, Peterson retired.
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