The police officer on duty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when shooting broke out in Parkland, Florida, last year has been charged with 11 felony counts for failing to adequately respond to the school shooting. The charges come at the conclusion of a 15-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that found Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, who was the school resource officer present at Stoneman Douglas High at the time, did essentially nothing to stop the shooting that left 17 students dead in a school shooting that transformed into a national trauma.
The filing of criminal charges against the 56-year-old Peterson for failing to act while on duty is highly unusual, as such cases are usually litigated in civil court, but the state police department’s findings were unequivocal, according to commissioner Rick Swearingen who said of Peterson: “There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives.” Peterson was taken into custody for charges including neglect of a child, culpable negligence, and perjury. Another officer on duty during the February 2018 shooting, Sgt. Brian Miller, was similarly found to have neglected his duties and was fired from his job but not charged with a crime.
“The Department of Law Enforcement said its inquiry showed that Mr. Peterson did not investigate the source of the gunshots, retreated during the shooting while victims were still under attack and directed other law enforcement officers to remain 500 feet away from the building,” the New York Times reports. “The sweeping investigation included interviews with 184 witnesses, along with reviews of video surveillance, to piece together what officials acknowledged was a slow and chaotic law enforcement response. Officials added a perjury charge alleging that Mr. Peterson knowingly made a false statement while under oath in stating that he did not hear shots fired after he arrived at the 1200 building, except for the first two or three shots he heard.”