Deputy acquitted of all charges for failing to act during deadly Parkland school shooting
Former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Resource Offer Scot Peterson reacts as he is found not guilt on all charges on June 29, 2023. Image via AP.

Scot.Peterson acquitted
Scot Peterson was facing nearly 100 years in prison and the loss of his $104,000 annual pension.

A Florida sheriff’s deputy was acquitted Thursday of felony child neglect and other charges for failing to act during the 2018 Parkland school massacre, concluding the first trial in U.S. history of a law enforcement officer for conduct during an on-campus shooting.

Former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson wept as the verdicts were read. The jury had deliberated for 19 hours over four days.

After court adjourned, Peterson, his family and friends rushed into a group hug as they whooped, hollered and cried. One of his supporters chased after lead prosecutor Chris Killoran and said something. Killoran turned and snapped at him, “Way to be a good winner” and slapped him on the shoulder. Members of the prosecution team then nudged Killoran out of the courtroom.

he campus deputy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Peterson had been charged with failing to confront shooter Nikolas Cruz during his six-minute attack inside a three-story 1200 classroom building on Feb. 14, 2018, that left 17 dead.

He could have received nearly 100 years in prison, although a sentence even approaching that length would have been highly unlikely given the circumstances and his clean record. He also could have lost his $104,000 annual pension.

Security videos show that 36 seconds after Cruz’s attack began, Peterson exited his office about 100 yards (92 meters) from the 1200 building and jumped into a cart with two unarmed civilian security guards. They arrived at the building a minute later.

Peterson got out of the cart near the east doorway to the first-floor hallway. Cruz was at the hallway’s opposite end, firing his AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.

Peterson, who was not wearing a bullet-resistant vest, didn’t open the door. Instead, he took cover 75 feet (23 meters) away in the alcove of a neighboring building, his gun still drawn. He stayed there for 40 minutes, long after the shooting ended and other police officers had stormed the building.

Peterson spent nearly three decades working at schools, including nine years at Stoneman Douglas. He retired shortly after the shooting and was then fired retroactively.

Cruz’s jury could not unanimously agree he deserved the death penalty. The 24-year-old former Stoneman Douglas student was then sentenced to life in prison.

Prosecutors, during their two-week presentation, called to the witness stand students, teachers and law enforcement officers who testified about the horror they experienced and how they knew where Cruz was. Some said they knew for certain that the shots were coming from the 1200 building. Prosecutors also called a training supervisor who testified Peterson did not follow protocols for confronting an active shooter.

Peterson’s attorney, Mark Eiglarsh, during his two-day presentation, called several deputies who arrived during the shooting and students and teachers who testified they did not think the shots were coming from the 1200 building. Peterson, who did not testify, has said that because of echoes, he could not pinpoint the shooter’s location.

Eiglarsh also emphasized the failure of the sheriff’s radio system during the attack, which limited what Peterson heard from arriving deputies.

“As parents, we have an expectation that armed school resource officers – who are under contract to be caregivers to our children – will do their jobs when we entrust our children to them and the schools they guard,” Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor and the prosecutor’s office said in a statement after the verdict. “They have a special role and responsibilities that exceed the role and responsibilities of a police officer. To those who have tried to make this political, I say: It is not political to expect someone to do their job.”


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Dont Say FLA

    June 29, 2023 at 4:50 pm

    Wow, what a good guy with a gun! I am sure Rhonda will give him a medal of honor ASAP for making sure there were no drag queens in the vicinity for the 40 minutes Cruz exercised his 2nd Amendment rights on some school children. Yay Rhonda. Good job Rhonda.

  • John Lentini

    June 29, 2023 at 5:41 pm

    I wonder if he is now financially ruined by his defense costs.

    • Linda

      June 29, 2023 at 9:40 pm

      His $104,000 annual pension will help with that.

  • Ocean Joe

    June 29, 2023 at 5:46 pm

    As long as anybody can get an assault rifle, cops will continue to cower and crouch, as Peterson did, and as the Uvalde police did, and who can blame them?

    We need to get serious about restoring the assault weapons ban.
    Instead, Florida’s political leaders are all puppets of the NRA.

    • Linda

      June 29, 2023 at 9:41 pm

      Peterson took a paycheck for years, but failed to do his job when called upon to save the children’s lives. A travesty.

  • Jake

    June 29, 2023 at 5:59 pm

    Another sad day for the victims and their families.

  • Jack

    June 29, 2023 at 6:11 pm

    Knowing this judge, Peterson would have spent the rest of his life in prison had he been convicted.

  • Joe

    June 30, 2023 at 1:20 pm

    There’s no acquitting him of cowardice, however, so he’ll have to live with those dead kids on his conscience.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn