Former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson who was on duty during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018 and his lawyer Mark Eiglarsh (not pictured) appeared in court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
UPDATED 7:09 PM PT – Sunday, August 21, 2021
The school resource officer accused of hiding during the Parkland school shooting has been faced with child negligence charges after allegedly not protecting students. A judge ruled on Thursday, former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson would have to convince a jury his actions were not criminally negligent.
Prosecutors have accused the deputy of failing to come to the rescue as Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz made his way through the hallways. They argued school resource officers were not the same as law enforcement as they could be considered caregivers.
Mourners bring flowers as they pay tribute at a memorial for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
However, the lawyer representing the deputy, Mark Eiglarsh, fired back at charges brought against his client.
“As a matter of law, he should never have been charged under a child neglect statute, which holds responsible parents, teachers, kidnappers, babysitters, but not school resource officers,” stated Eiglarsh.
The deputy has defended himself by saying he did the best he could with the information available at the time and never would’ve sat inactive if he had known people were being shot. “This will haunt me the rest of my life,” said Peterson. “You know, those were my kids and that’s why it hurts the way it does.”
Reports said Peterson was forced to resign and was blamed for reportedly not going inside the building when the shooting occurred. The devastating event took the lives of 17 individuals and left another 17 wounded.
The shooter, Cruz, faces 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. If convicted, he faces a death sentence. However, a trial date has not yet been set.