Scot Peterson, the disgraced Broward County, Florida, sheriff’s deputy who refused to go into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the Parkland shooting in February, now stands accused of misdirecting officers trying to stop the shooter after the release of a new video.
“A surveillance video of Peterson’s movements outside the school was shown Wednesday to the state commission investigating the massacre, with the video plotted against an animation showing the shooter’s actions and combined with recordings of police radio calls,” the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale reported.
“Peterson, who has been subpoenaed to testify to the commission next month, resigned in disgrace after videos showed he took cover and did nothing to confront the gunman.”
The commission heard that Peterson’s behavior during the shooting could have contributed to the carnage.
“During the ordeal inside the freshman building, which left 17 dead, Peterson called over the radio for intersections to be blocked, which members of the commission said was precisely the wrong tactic when an active shooter is busy killing people,” the Sun Sentinel said.
“He failed to provide an initial radio report about the shootings to the Sheriff’s Office, letting minutes pass in silence. Peterson told officers to stay at least 500 feet from the building.”
Instead, a member of the Sheriff’s Office said that procedure generally would be to charge the shooter. Peterson’s actions meant other Broward law enforcement officers could have been kept from confronting the shooter.
Members of the commission heard that the order could be responsible for other deputies not charging in after the shooter. It was also noted that the city of Coral Springs, which did not receive Peterson’s orders, had a swifter response to the shooting.
“If you’re a responding Broward Sheriff’s deputy, and you have the deputy that’s on campus, who’s there in the best position, telling you what to do — i.e. lockdown intersections, they’re going to do what the guy who’s on campus is telling them to do,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the commission, said.
“Coral Springs didn’t hear that direction. So Coral Springs is coming right in,” Gualtieri said. “Why are they coming right in? Because they weren’t hearing this nonsense direction about locking down intersections.”
Peterson, who resigned his post after the shooting, has apologized for his actions but insisted they weren’t out of cowardice.
“I didn’t get it right,” Peterson said in a June interview with NBC’s “Today.”
“But it wasn’t because of some, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go into that building. Oh, I don’t want to face somebody in there.’ It wasn’t like that at all.”
“Those are my kids in there,” he said. “I never would have sat there and let my kids get slaughtered. Never.”
Peterson, however, is currently the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit being led by activist Parkland father Andrew Pollack.
I filed a wrongful death suit against Deputy Peterson today. I want to expose that coward so bad. Where ever he goes I want people to recognize him and say that's one of the cowards of Broward. The SRO that let those children and teachers die on the 3rd floor!
— Andrew Pollack (@AndrewPollackFL) April 30, 2018
Peterson’s attorneys have said he had no obligation to go into the building under the law, according to the Sentinel.
The lawsuit, they claim, suggests only that he “opted for self-preservation over heroics,” which doesn’t meet the legal hurdle of proving bad faith or malice in his actions.
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