A jury has acquitted Scot Peterson, the ex-school resource officer who stayed outside during the February 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on all counts. The case was notable for the state’s decision to bring the child neglect charges under a Florida statute that governs caregivers, arguing Peterson as a school resource officer had a duty to protect the students.
The ruling in the trial of a law enforcement officer for his response to a mass shooting found Peterson not guilty of seven counts of felony child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury. Peterson wept in court as the judge read off the verdict, later telling reporters outside the courtroom “I’ve got my life back.” The 60-year-old, a former deputy for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, described the years since the shooting as “an emotional roller coaster.”
Peterson was accused of failing to confront the gunman according to his active shooter training, instead taking cover for more than 45 minutes outside the school’s three-story 1200 building before the killer was apprehended. State prosecutors accused Peterson of ignoring his training and doing nothing as 17 people, including 14 students, were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Peterson’s attorney argued that he didn’t enter the building under attack because he couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from. Peterson said of the shooter: “The only person to blame was that monster. It wasn’t any law enforcement, nobody on that scene, from BSO, Coral Springs. Everybody did the best they could. We did the best we could with the information we had, and God knows we wish we had more at that point.”
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