Florida deputy charged for inaction during Parkland shooting
By CURT ANDERSON and TERRY SPENCER Associated Press
MIAMI (AP) — 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.
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.
“It’s never too late for accountability and justice,” Tony said.
Nikolas Cruz , 20, faces the death penalty if convicted of the first-degree murder charges filed in the attack. His lawyers have said Cruz would plead guilty in return for a life sentence, but prosecutors have refused that offer.
Cruz is expected to go on trial in early 2020.
Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.