The Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy who deigned not to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after arriving to face an active shooter on the premises has been sued by a group of parents and students directly concerned with the matter, TMZ reports. Citing as evidence the fact that the deputy’s inaction led to the death of 17 individuals that day – Scot Peterson took cover behind his vehicle and did not make any moves to engage in a preventative or rescue effort of the students or staff – the plaintiffs are making the case that Peterson initially fled the scene, beating a retreat back to a position on the periphery of the property, and did nothing further to prevent the gunman.
Video evidence provided to TMZ by the police department seems to reinforce this narrative, showing that Peterson arrived just one minute after active shooter Nikolas Cruz opened fire on his fellow students and support staff inside the school. Immediately, Peterson retreats in a golf cart. For his part, Peterson and his legal counsel insist that not only did the deputy believe that the shots were being fired from outside, but further that the specific training offered up by Broward County Sheriff’s Department calls for a tactical retreat and perimeter set up in situations such as these according to The Independent.
“[Broward County Sheriff’s Office] trains its officers that in the event of outdoor gunfire one is to seek cover and assess the situation in order to communicate what one observes to other law enforcement,” Peterson’s lawyer said. “Consistent with his training, Mr. Peterson ‘took up a tactical position between the… buildings corridor/corner.”
The suit makes the claim that Scot Peterson was negligent in the performance of his duties, failing to act in order to offer security to civilian citizens being shot at with intent to kill. The plaintiffs also allege that there is a pattern of negligent behavior surrounding Peterson in addition to his greater dereliction of duty inasmuch as he had garnered a popular reputation as “ROD” or Retired on Duty – a sarcastic stand-in slur to say that the deputy was known to be a lazy cop.
Nikolas Cruz, the gunman in question, has waived his right to a speedy trial, according to CNN.
The parents and students also allege that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office was well aware that Cruz had the potential to be a dangerous offender, having received dozens of calls warning them of his behavior from a period of 2008 to 2017, yet sat on their hands and on Cruz’s file, doing nothing and seeing the dread results of their inaction paid out by innocents and their families. A Broward County Sheriff’s captain who reportedly refused to allow emergency personnel and first responders to access the scene was also named as a defendant, in addition to Broward County as a whole.
Peterson was also taken to task by the media recently after revelations that his resignation involved his receipt of a pension to the tune of ~$8,700 a month, drawing even more public outcry, according to CNN.
This is not the first time that Scot Peterson has been the subject of a suit over the matter, having been previously named in a lawsuit as a defendant by plaintiff Andrew Pollack, a parent who has made claims in the same vein regarding the deputy’s dereliction of duty. Pollack’s daughter perished in the tragic shooting of February 14 earlier this year.