A jury has acquitted on all counts the former school resource officer who stayed outside during the February 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida – absolving him of wrongdoing in the rare trial of a law enforcement officer for his response to a mass shooting.
Scot Peterson, 60, took off his glasses and wept in court as the judge read the verdict, which found him not guilty of seven counts of felony child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury.
“I’ve got my life back,” Peterson, a former deputy for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, told reporters outside court, describing the years since the shooting as “an emotional roller coaster.”
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 in what remains the deadliest US high school shooting ever. His attorney argued the then-deputy didn’t enter the school’s 1200 building, the site of the attack, because he couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from.
“The only person to blame was that monster,” Peterson said of the shooter. “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.”