Jury acquits former Florida deputy of failing to protect students in Parkland school shooting

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Jury acquits former Florida deputy of failing to protect students in Parkland school shooting

A former sheriff’s deputy accused of failing to protect students during the 2018 mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was acquitted by a Florida jury on Thursday. Scot Peterson, the school resource officer on duty during the shooting, had faced charges of child neglect, culpable negligence, and perjury. The judge read aloud the “not guilty” verdict to each count, causing Peterson to sob with relief. The jury’s decision spared him a potential prison sentence of 97 years.

Following the verdict, Peterson expressed his desire to speak with the parents of the students who lost their lives in the shooting. He stated that he would be there for them if they needed to know the truth of what occurred, his voice choked with tears. However, the Broward State Attorney’s Office, which brought the case, reiterated its argument that Peterson could have done more to protect the school community and that his inaction had a dire impact on the victims.

The office’s statement highlighted the unprecedented nature of the case, stating that prosecutors had attempted to hold an armed school resource officer accountable for not fulfilling his duties. Some parents of the victims who attended the trial were disappointed with the outcome. Tony Montalto, whose daughter was among the students killed, expressed his dissatisfaction with the jury’s decision and rejected Peterson’s offer to talk.

According to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and surveillance video, Peterson, who was armed, never entered the building during the shooting. This case stands out as one of the few instances where a law enforcement officer has been prosecuted for failing to take action or provide care. The outcome of this highly unusual case could potentially set a legal precedent and influence prosecutors across the country when considering charges against officials in similar situations.

During his trial, Peterson did not testify, and the proceedings lasted two and a half weeks. In a separate trial in October, the jury spared Nikolas Cruz, the gunman in the Parkland shooting, from the death penalty, instead sentencing him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In May, the United States marked the one-year anniversary of the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade, which occurred in Uvalde, Texas. In that incident, a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers, injuring 17 others. The police’s delayed response in entering the school drew widespread criticism.

A report by the Texas Department of Public Safety revealed that a Uvalde police officer had the opportunity to shoot the gunman before he entered the school but hesitated while awaiting permission from a supervisor. These incidents highlight the ongoing debate surrounding the actions and responsibilities of law enforcement officers during mass shootings.

The article was written by Julia Harte and edited by Deepa Babington. The reporting adheres to The Thomson RushHourDaily Trust Principles.

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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