Former Deputy Scot Peterson Exonerated in Parkland School Shooting Inaction Case

by Lucas Garcia
Scot Peterson Acquittal

Scot Peterson, a former deputy sheriff from Broward County, Florida, was cleared of all charges on Thursday related to child neglect and other allegations for his inaction during the tragic 2018 Parkland school shooting. This case marked the first instance in the U.S. where a law enforcement officer stood trial for their behavior during an on-campus shooting.

After an intense four-day deliberation spanning 19 hours, the jury returned their verdict, moving Peterson to tears. Following the court’s adjournment, Peterson, along with family and friends, embraced in a celebratory group hug, amidst cries and cheers of relief.

As Peterson left the court, he said, “I got my life back. We’ve got our life back.” He was thankful to his lawyer, Mark Eiglarsh, for standing by his side during the emotionally draining trial and emphasized that the victims of the tragedy should never be forgotten. Peterson put the blame squarely on the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, maintaining that all law enforcement on the scene had acted to the best of their abilities given the information available at the time.

Peterson faced charges for not confronting Cruz during his deadly six-minute rampage in a three-story 1200 classroom building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, which claimed 17 lives. If convicted, Peterson risked nearly 100 years in prison and potentially losing his annual pension of $104,000.

During the trial, the prosecution presented students, teachers, and law enforcement officers who detailed their horrific experiences and awareness of Cruz’s location. A training supervisor also testified that Peterson had not adhered to the protocols for dealing with an active shooter. Conversely, Peterson’s defense lawyer highlighted the failure of the sheriff’s radio system during the shooting, which restricted the information Peterson received. Several deputies and school members testified that they were uncertain of the shooter’s location due to echoing sounds.

Following the verdict, Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor issued a statement insisting on the accountability of armed school resource officers and refuting attempts to politicize the issue.

Family members of some victims, however, expressed their disinterest in engaging with Peterson. Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina died in the shooting, responded curtly to the prospect of dialogue with Peterson, expressing his deep-felt loss and bitterness.

Security footage from the incident showed Peterson had withdrawn about 100 yards away from the 1200 building and took shelter in an alcove of an adjacent building without opening the door to confront Cruz. He remained there for 40 minutes after the shooting ended and other officers had already entered the building.

Peterson, who dedicated nearly three decades of his career to school service, retired after the shooting incident and was subsequently dismissed from his role retroactively.

Meanwhile, the jury was unable to unanimously agree on a death penalty for Cruz, the 24-year-old former student who carried out the attack. Consequently, Cruz received a life sentence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Scot Peterson Acquittal

Who was acquitted of charges in the Parkland school shooting case?

Former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson was acquitted of all charges relating to his inaction during the 2018 Parkland school shooting.

What charges was Scot Peterson facing?

Scot Peterson faced charges of felony child neglect and other allegations due to his failure to act during the Parkland school massacre in 2018.

What was the outcome of the trial?

After four days of deliberations, the jury acquitted Scot Peterson of all charges.

What were the consequences for Peterson if he had been found guilty?

If found guilty, Peterson could have faced nearly 100 years in prison and potentially lost his annual pension of $104,000.

How did Peterson react after the verdict?

Peterson was visibly emotional and relieved following the verdict. He expressed that he got his life back and asserted that the only person to blame for the tragedy was the shooter, Nikolas Cruz.

How did the families of the victims react to the verdict?

Some family members of the victims expressed disinterest in engaging with Peterson following the verdict, emphasizing their continued grief over their losses.

More about Scot Peterson Acquittal

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RonnieB June 30, 2023 - 3:25 am

Man, I don’t know…tough to judge someone who’s facing a shooter with an AR-15. not as simple as it seems.

Alex_2023 June 30, 2023 - 5:49 am

he shouldve done something.. anything! he was an officer, it was his job to protect those kids.

JustBeReal June 30, 2023 - 7:35 am

the real monster here is Cruz. let’s not forget that. still, it’s a complicated situation.

Jamie_M June 30, 2023 - 8:40 am

can’t believe he got off, really thought he’d be held accountable smh…

SaraLovesJustice June 30, 2023 - 10:59 am

what about the families?? they have to live with this forever. This ain’t right.

PeacefulTom June 30, 2023 - 7:58 pm

its easy to blame. but in a chaotic situation, with a failed radio system… I dunno, I can’t say I wouldn’t have froze too. tough call.


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