The Broward County Sheriff’s deputy who is accused of refusing to engage a teenager killing students in a Parkland high school has released a statement denying charges he acted like a coward during the shooting.
In the days after the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Deputy Scot Peterson stood outside the school doing nothing as the Parkland killer systematically killed 17 people. The sheriff said Deputy Peterson should have “went in” and confronted the shooter.
“I am devastated. Sick to my stomach. He never went in,” Sheriff Israel said at a press conference last week.
Israel quickly suspended the deputy pending an investigation, but in short order, the officer resigned ahead of any investigation. Peterson has remained silent in public until now.
Monday, through a statement delivered by his attorney, the disgraced deputy denied accusations that he broke his oath as an officer of the law, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
First of all, Peterson’s lawyer, Joseph DiRuzzo, called Sheriff Israel’s accusations a “gross oversimplification.”
“Let there be no mistake, Mr. Peterson wishes that he could have prevented the untimely passing of the seventeen victims on that day,” DiRuzzo said, “and his heart goes out to the families of the victims in their time of need,” he said. “However, the allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue.”
DiRuzzo added that Peterson did not rush into the building because he was not sure where the gunshots were coming from and thought the shooter might have been outside, not inside the school. Peterson, DiRuzzo said, “believed that those gunshots were originating from outside of any of the buildings on the school campus.”
The controversial deputy also insisted he was observing his training, which mandates that officers “seek cover and assess the situation in order to communicate what one observes to other law enforcement.”
“Consistent with his training,” the former officer’s statement says, “Mr. Peterson ‘took up a tactical position between the 700-800 buildings corridor/corner.'”
Sheriff Israel himself has also been fighting back against calls for his resignation for his department’s failure to do anything about the teen who went on to kill a multitude of students. The calls for Israel’s resignation have come after news broke that the department had dozens of interactions with the mass murderer and warnings from citizens that he was a danger, but did nothing.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.