Parkland school resource officer found not guilty

June 30, 2023
Robert Ayers

The Wall Street Journal reports that a Florida jury has found the resource officer accused of failing to confront the Parkland school shooter not guilty. 

Scot Peterson - the 60-year-old officer who spent 30 years with the Broward County Sheriff's Office - broke down in tears inside the courtroom following the reading of the verdict.

The case stems from the infamous shooting that took place on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. There, Nikolas Cruz carried out a shooting, killing 14 students and three staff members.

Peterson was there at the time of the shooting, and the criminal charges that were brought against him stemmed from his actions - or, rather, his alleged inaction - during the shooting.

The charges

Following the shooting, an internal investigation was conducted, and that investigation found that Peterson retreated while the school's students were under attack.

Peterson was fired after the results of the investigation were released, and criminal charges were brought against him.

Prosecutors charged Peterson with seven child neglect felonies as well as three culpable negligence misdemeanors. Peterson also faced perjury charges for allegedly lying to law enforcement.

These charges carried with them a maximum punishment of 95 years in prison. Peterson, if convicted, could also have lost all of his $104,000 annual pension.

But, in the Broward County Courthouse, the jury found him not guilty. He has been cleared of all alleged crimes.


Following the verdict, Peterson spoke with reporters.

Peterson said that the only person to blame for the school shooting was "that monster," referring to Cruz. Peterson, also told reporters that "in any type of incident, do your due diligence and look at the facts."

Peterson's attorney, Mark Eiglarsh, further claimed that the case was an attempt to make his client a "sacrificial lamb." Eiglarsh claimed that Peterson "did everything he could" during the shooting.

The prosecution as well as several of the victims' parents were clearly not happy with the outcome.

Following Peterson's acquittal, Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor said:

To those who have tried to make this political, I say: It is not political to expect someone to do their job. As parents, we have an expectation that armed school resource officers – who are under contract to be caregivers to our children – will do their jobs when we entrust our children to them and the schools they guard. They have a special role and responsibilities that exceed the role and responsibilities of a police officer.

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