(DCWatchdog.com) – BREAKING NOW: Just moments ago, Scot Peterson, the former School Resource Police Officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was acquitted of all charges related to his failure to take action during the mass shooting incident in 2018.
Apart from the shooter himself, Peterson was the only person to face legal consequences as a result of the event.
Emotions ran high as Peterson, age 60, wept during the reading of the verdict. His charges included six counts of child neglect resulting in significant harm, one count of child neglect without harm, three counts of culpable negligence, and one count of perjury.
The case has drawn extensive attention as it’s the first time a law enforcement officer has faced charges of child neglect in their capacity as a “caregiver.”
This legal term typically applies to roles such as parents, babysitters, teachers, and even, in one peculiar case, a kidnapper. However, it’s not often extended to police officers. The prosecution claimed Peterson fell into this category because of his duty to protect the students of Parkland High School as the assigned school resource officer.
Peterson arrived at the 1200 building, where the shooting was taking place, with his weapon drawn. He was 10 feet away from the east entrance while the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was inside the building at a distance of 70 yards. Despite being armed, Peterson didn’t rush into the building but ran from it and took cover, reporting shots fired and calling for an emergency campus lockdown.
The prosecution suggested that Peterson’s decision not to enter the building hindered his ability to gauge the situation’s severity and confront or distract the shooter. His lawyer, however, argued that the direction of the gunfire was unclear, hence Peterson’s caution.
In addition to the trial, Peterson has been the target of several lawsuits filed by victims’ families and was publicly condemned by various figures, including ex-Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and former President Donald Trump. They criticized him as a coward who failed in his duties. Peterson, however, insists through his lawyer that he thought the shots might have been coming from outside the 1200 building, which caused confusion among other officers and witnesses.
The child neglect charges assert that Peterson indirectly allowed harm to befall teachers and students on the third floor. When he arrived outside the 1200 building, the tragic events on the first floor had already occurred. No charges were tied to the fatalities or injuries on this floor, nor were any victims on the second floor.
Victims’ families attended parts of the trial, viewing it as a symbol of accountability for the tragic event.
Had Peterson been found guilty, he could have faced decades in prison, despite his prior 32-year unblemished service record. The verdict also prevented him from potentially losing his pension.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS ITEM FROM THE DC WATCHDOG.