Former Broward County, Fla., sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson was acquitted of felony child neglect and other charges for failing to act during the 2018 Parkland school massacre. It was the first trial of a law enforcement officer for conduct during an on-campus shooting, reports the Associated Press. Peterson wept as the verdicts were read. The fathers of two students murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb, 14, 2018 quickly left the courtroom. The jury deliberated for 19 hours over four days. “I got my life back. We’ve got our life back,” Peterson said as he left the courtroom, his arm around his wife, Lydia Rodriguez, and his lawyer, Mark Eiglarsh. He also said people should never forget the victims.
“Only one person was to blame and it was that monster (shooter Nikolas Cruz),” Peterson said. “It wasn’t any of the law enforcement who was on that scene. ... Everybody did the best they could with the information we had.” Peterson said he hopes to sit down with the Parkland parents to tell them “the truth,” that he did everything he could. “I would love to talk to them. I have no problem,” he said. “I’m there.” Peterson was charged with failing to confront shooter Cruz during a six-minute attack inside a three-story classroom building that left 17 dead. His charges were in connection to the six killed and four wounded on the third floor, who were shot more than a minute after he approached the building. Prosecutors used a novel legal theory against Peterson, that as the school’s assigned deputy he was a “caregiver” to its students — a requirement for him to be guilty of child neglect. Florida law defines a caregiver as “a parent, adult household member or other person responsible for a child’s welfare.” If jurors found Peterson was a caregiver, they also would have had to agree he failed to make a “reasonable effort” to protect the children or failed to provide necessary care.