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Former School Resource Officer Scot Peterson was found not guilty on Thursday of all charges stemming from his much-criticized response to the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Peterson, who worked for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, was charged in 2019 “with seven counts of neglect of a child and three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury,” according to NBC News. He faced up to nearly 100 years in prison for each count of child neglect.
Peterson was dubbed “The Broward Coward” for failing to confront the shooter for nearly 45 minutes during the tragedy where 17 people were murdered and 17 more were injured.
BREAKING: A Florida jury found former Parkland school resource officer #ScotPeterson NOT GUILTY of all charges related to the school massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018. Peterson was acquitted of child neglect and culpable negligence. pic.twitter.com/dPxbxXg394
— Law&Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) June 29, 2023
Peterson’s response, or lack thereof, was so controversial that it drew the attention of top officials across the country, including former President Donald Trump, who slammed Peterson just a few days after the tragedy.
“When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage or something happened. But he certainly did a poor job. There’s no question about that,” Trump said. “That’s a case where somebody was outside, they’re trained, they didn’t act properly or under pressure or they were a coward. It was a real shock to the police department.”
Peterson’s attorney, Mark Eiglarsh, said during close arguments on Monday that the prosecution’s case hinged “upon this erroneous belief that he knew that there were kids in that 1200 building being shot by this monster. And that wasn’t proven because it didn’t happen.”
However, prosecutors brought up other examples of numerous other people on campus who quickly knew where the shooter was and they also brought in witnesses who testified that Peterson did not follow the proper protocols.
“In that moment, while he stood at those doors, every student and every teacher on the third floor was still alive. In that moment, choose to go in, or choose to run. And Scot Peterson chose to run,” assistant state attorney Kristen Gomes said this week. “He left behind an unrestricted killer to spend the next four minutes and 15 seconds wandering the halls at his leisure.”
“He was the only hope for those victims,” she added.
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