Scot Peterson resigned from the Broward County Sheriff’s Department after he failed to enter Stoneman Douglas High School during a shooting that left 14 people dead, and now the embattled former officer will receive more than $8,000 per month in a state pension.
Peterson was the subject of considerable criticism in the wake of the shooting after reports emerged that the sheriff’s deputy chose to remain outside the school rather than enter when the gunman began opening fire. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel publicly criticized the deputy, saying that he should have gone inside and confronted the gunman, and even President Donald Trump weighed in to call Peterson a coward. Now, a new report from the Florida Sun Sentinel is drawing even more controversy.
The report found that the 55-year-old Peterson will be retiring with a monthly pension of $8,702.35, and received his first payment last month. Scot Peterson had served as the school resource officer within Stoneman Douglas High School and received glowing reviews before the February 14 shooting, the report noted.
Peterson earned more than $101,000 in his final year as a sheriff’s deputy through a combination of regular pay plus overtime and other compensation. His pension is based on the average of his five highest-paid years and the 32 years he spent on the job.
The troubles are not over for Peterson. Andrew Pollack, a parent who lost his daughter in the shooting, has said that he will be suing the sheriff’s department, and Peterson in particular, for inaction during the massacre. Pollack has also targeted Peterson for collecting the hefty monthly pension.
Scot Peterson maintained that he believed the gunshots were coming from outside the school.
“[His actions] were appropriate under the circumstances,” lawyer Joseph DiRuzzo said in a statement to the Miami Herald. “Allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue.”
And Peterson was reportedly not alone in his inaction. Other reports indicated that as many as four sheriff’s deputies took cover behind cars rather than entering Stoneman Douglas High School while the shooting was taking place.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Department had said there would be no reason to withhold Scot Peterson’s pension from him.