Former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School School Resource Officer Scot Peterson, standing with his defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh, looks towards the courtroom gallery as prospective jurors enter at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
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By Terry Spencer, AP

Jury selection in the groundbreaking trial of a former sheriff’s deputy charged with failing to confront the killer of 14 students and three staff members at a Florida high school five years ago got off to a speedy start Wednesday, with the preliminary round nearing its conclusion in just a few hours.

Circuit Judge Martin Fein had tentatively scheduled three days of preliminary jury selection, seeking 50 candidates whose schedules and employment would allow possibly two months of jury service at the trial of former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson. Before Wednesday’s lunch break, the judge already had 41 finalists out of 200 prospects interviewed and it appeared he would get his full complement by the end of the day.

Those 50 will be brought back Monday for questioning by prosecutors and Peterson’s attorney about their knowledge of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, and whether they can be fair in judging Peterson’s alleged refusal to confront shooter Nikolas Cruz at the scene.

scot peterson parkland broward coward
Scot Peterson (Broward County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Six jurors and four alternates will be chosen. Florida is one of six states that allow six-member juries for trials other than capital murder. The others are Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts and Utah. All other states use 12-member juries in felony trials.

While Fein tried to dissuade additional comments Wednesday, two prospective jurors demanded to speak to him outside of the presence of the others. One said he already knew he couldn’t be fair because he considers Peterson “a coward.” Another said his boss’s daughter was one of the 17 wounded in the shooting. Both were dismissed.

Former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School School Resource Officer Scot Peterson, left, sits with his defense lawyer Mark Eiglarsh before the start of a hearing at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Peterson, 60, is charged with seven counts of felony child neglect involving four students killed and three wounded on the top floor of a three-story classroom building. He becomes the first U.S. law enforcement officer prosecuted for his alleged actions and inaction during a school shooting.

Texas authorities are still considering charges for the officers who failed last year to confront the gunman at an Uvalde elementary school who killed 19 children and two teachers.

On Feb. 14, 2018, Peterson approached the building with his gun drawn 73 seconds before Cruz reached the third floor, but instead of entering, he backed away as gunfire sounded. He has said he thought the shots were coming from outside the building, perhaps from a sniper. His attorney Mark Eiglarsh says he will call 22 witnesses who also thought the shots came from outside.

Scot Peterson Parkland broward coward
This Feb. 14, 2018 frame from security video provided by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office shows deputy Scot Peterson, right, outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The video released shows Peterson going toward the high school building while a gunman massacred 17 students and staff members, but stayed outside with his handgun drawn. (Courtesy of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Eiglarsh also argues that under Florida law, Peterson had no legal obligation to enter the building and confront Cruz.

Peterson is also charged with three counts of misdemeanor culpable negligence for the adults shot on the third floor, including a teacher and an adult student who died. He also faces a perjury charge for allegedly lying to investigators. He could get nearly a century in prison if convicted on the child neglect counts and lose his $104,000 annual pension.

Prosecutors did not charge Peterson in connection with the 11 killed and 13 wounded on the first floor before he arrived at the building. No one was shot on the second floor.

Peterson retired shortly after the shooting and was fired retroactively.

 

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73 COMMENTS

  1. What do we really expect from this (or the Uvalde killings)?

    The SC already ruled police have no duty to protect. Just as we expect Bruen to be kryptonite to anti-gun laws, can we then expect a state law to overrule the US Supreme Court?

    • “can we then expect a state law to overrule the US Supreme Court?”

      Only if the Left ie media want it that way

    • This is a bit different than Gonzales v. Castle Rock, where they were suing the city for lack of police response. Here, he’s facing criminal charges (child neglect and culpatory negligence). If convicted, the victims and families could sue him personally, but they wouldn’t get much and couldn’t sue the Broward Sheriff for his criminal acts.

      • “Here, he’s facing criminal charges (child neglect and culpatory negligence).”

        Hoping to see the defense attorneys put the state law in conflict with SC decision. Would be an interesting, and informative, legal snarl to untangle.

        • fyi
          It has already started. She was found guilty of not stopping a crime.

          “Former Aurora officer found guilty for failure to intervene”
          video 3 min long

      • For a guy that draws $104,000 in retirement, I bet he’s got some $$$$ stashed away.

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    • Sam, in this case, the deputy did have a duty to respond to protect the kids and adults. He was summoned to the location of the incident and does have an obligation to do his duty as a law enforcement officer to enforce the law.

      • “He was summoned to the location of the incident and does have an obligation to do his duty as a law enforcement officer”

        Nice to think that, however….

        Without the SC ruling in front of me, I don’t remember an exception, depending upon whether a cop comes across a crime in progress, or is summoned to the scene.

        In any event, not sure a cop’s obligation is to rush in to a conflict, without evaluating the tactical situation, potential actions, need for reinforcements, opportunity to coordinate a response among those who arrive as “backup”.

        Thinking it a tough haul claim police are obligated to imprudently run headlong into a firefight, without considering that doing so might result in a worse outcome.

        And there is the fact that no conviction is settled until all the appeals are adjudicated.

    • They’ll go through the motions, then pat themselves on the back after its over, but in the end the coward will go free. His torment will not end when the trial does though. It will go on for years, as he knows he was coward, and will always have to live with it.

      • “…he knows he was coward, and will always have to live with it.”

        That would be the case with a highly moral person. In this instance is is more likely that he sees himself as a highly moral person slandered; everyone else is immoral.

      • The sad thing is, SuperG, is that cowards like this one see nothing wrong with what he did, because it may be a part of his character and who he is as a person. He may may actually wear the “Cowardice/Coward” label as a badge of honor, instead of one of shame. He may actually hold his head up high in defiance. That is how messed up this world is. Whereas real heroes are either thrown under the bus and persecuted, or are ignored altogether.

        • Whereas real heroes are either thrown under the bus and persecuted, or are ignored altogether.

          REAL heroes don’t do it for the atta boys…

  2. The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that police have no specific obligation to protect. In its 1989 decision in DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, the justices ruled that a social services department had no duty to protect a young boy from his abusive father. In 2005’sCastle Rock v. Gonzales, a woman sued the police for failing to protect her from her husband after he violated a restraining order and abducted and killed their three children. Justices said the police had no such duty.

    Most recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that police could not be held liable for failing to protect students in the 2018 shooting that claimed 17 lives at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.It will interesting to see how this plays out in court.Don’t get me wrong,this coward of Broward deserves to go to jail for a long time!!!

    • Madmas3.6 In this case, the deputy has the duty to enforce the law. It is not a matter of “protection” as it is about enforcing the law. He had knowledge that there was an unauthorized person in the building with a gun. That is a violation of Florida law. He has been called to the scene and failed to act. At the very least that is called Official Misconduct.

  3. oh man
    id love to be on this jury
    guilty as charged
    and let the scotus hash it out
    let the process be the punishment
    for one of their guys for a change

    • A fair trial followed by a fair hanging?

      I’m sure there are enough good ol’ boys who have a truck with a winch. All that’s needed is a tree or a light pole.

      • A good cow pony can launch quicker then a pickup. Tie the feet to the stirrups and stretch that neck till the head pops off

      • “A fair trial followed by a fair hanging?”

        I had a running joke with my boss years back when I got the magic ‘letters’ in the mail.

        The fastest way out of jury duty during questioning is to simply state “I’ll be happy to give the guilty bastard the fair trial he deserves”… 😉

        • Geoff, see my riff on Shadow’s comment below: You must not be a “thumb sucker.”

          (And you’d be correct to disqualify yourself as a prospective juror if you can’t be impartial in the matter.)

        • It was a joke. That being said, I would report as required for the simple reason it’s a day off with pay.

          Both times, we were sent home before voir dire, as the defendants accepted the plea deal the state offered.

          If I was seated, I’d look at the evidence presented and go from there…

  4. “Eiglarsh also argues that under Florida law, Peterson had no legal obligation to enter the building and confront Cruz.”

    I’m afraid that the US Supreme Court will agree with that, because they already have. No cop has any obligation, no police department has any obligation to protect you, the citizen. That’s why it is so important to be prepared to defend yourself. The cops aren’t there to defend you from a carjacker, a rapist, a mugger, or whatever.

  5. Prediction: he’ll be found guilty on the perjury charge, and that’s all.

    • “…he’ll be found guilty on the perjury charge, and that’s all.”

      I dunno on that, people have long memories when it comes to kids being murdered. Worse for him, there’s nowhere in the country they could move the trial to find jurors who haven’t heard of his cowardly ass… 🙁

      • You know what I meant. 🙂 Of the three charges, he’ll only be found guilty of perjury. It’s a stretch to think that he’ll be convicted of child neglect or culpable negligence.

  6. Peterson is no doubt a cowardly piece of excrement.

    That being said the Police have no general affirmative duty to protect anyone. SCOTUS and the various district courts (as mentioned above) have repeatedly ruled on this.

    The one major exception is within the narrow confines of someone being held in custody. And police agencies have repeatedly lost in court when someone was harmed in custody when they failed to take reasonable care.

    The only legal theory that might be a winner here is: The kids are in the custody of the state while in a government school, thus the state has an affirmative duty to take reasonable action to keep them safe, and part of that affirmative duty falls on Peterson as an agent of said state.

    I.e. a person in a government school is sufficiently different from a person on the street or in their home, such that a duty to protect may exist.

    Either way, Peterson is a cowardly POS.

    • “The kids are in the custody of the state while in a government school, thus the state has an affirmative duty to take reasonable action to keep them safe, and part of that affirmative duty falls on Peterson as an agent of said state.“

      Correct.

    • Mark, the police do have a duty to enforce the law when they personally know that a violation of that law has occurred. It is against Florida law to bring a firearm into a school. He has been summoned to the scene because of this as well as the shooting. He failed to perform that duty. Ipso facto, he is responsible for any deaths that resulted.

  7. Did anyone else catch that last bit? He gets a six figure pension? I hope some wrongful death lawsuits take that away.

    • How in the heyell does one get a six-figure pension?!?
      That right there is probably what gave him second thoughts about running towards the problem.

      • Public service unions bargained with the city/state administrations to include substantial pensions for hazardous-duty public safety positions.

        The theory being that the jobs are risky, dangerous and generally lower-paying compared to those in the private sector, as well as most not requiring a college degree. Hefty pensions were added to attract good candidates to the positions. Private-sector employers could offer better salaries, but pensions — since they weren’t being funded by taxpayers — tended to be less generous.

        How many of us here have made statements such as “You couldn’t pay me enough to do that thankless job?” The same goes for military service. (And this was before the advent of “woke,” when the jobs were mostly perceived as necessary and even honorable careers.)

      • Six figure salary and enough years in where 60% (or whatever)still has the digits. Our prison guards and mental health workers can pull 6 figure pensions on 5 figure salaries but that life can suck.

        • I worked at a state prison here in CA for a year in the 80’s. Felt like burning my clothes at the end of each shift. And I was not a guard.

        • One of my customers worked in a nearby prison for years, but took a pay cut to drive a concrete truck and hasn’t looked back.

  8. Perhaps the significant legal difference between this and the SCOTUS decisions are this:
    A “random” police officer has no duty to protect a “random” citizen.

    However, Mr. Peterson was not a “random” police officer. He was assigned to the school as their named resource officer.

    That is, he had a specific duty. The question now is, assuming he was derelict in that duty, was he then partially responsible for what occurred as a result of that dereliction of duty.

    My guess is he will eventually be acquitted of most of the charges because cowardice does not mean dereliction.

  9. “He becomes the first U.S. law enforcement officer prosecuted for his alleged actions and inaction during a school shooting.”

    Let’s hope this starts a trend. 🙁

    “He could get nearly a century in prison if convicted on the child neglect counts and lose his $104,000 annual pension.”

    That burns my ass the most. Convict that sorry P.O.S…. 🙁

    • No military retiree who was not a flag or general officer gets that much.

      Anyone who retired at a position comparable to his (which hasn’t even been possible for decades due to High Year Tenure) would make a small fraction of that.😡

    • Those size of pensions will be the reason that the blue will follow the confiscation orders in the future.

      • NO WAY.
        It’s got nothing to do with $$$$’, they took the job because of the dog shuting and kid shoving benitezfits

  10. The police are under no obligation to protect us. Fine. But those same police will do their very best to fix it so that we cannot protect ourselves.

    • They try and protect you as best they can when your put in cell block D,
      B is full of gangsta thugs, and there is not many OFWG’s, so you’d really never get to drink your orange juice.
      Law Enforcement and the Judicial System, a kind and caring organization.

    • The way I see it is, if the police are under no obligation to protect themselves, and they (at least in blue cities & state) let criminals out on the streets, if they bother arresting them at all, then I think no police officer/state trooper/sheriff should be allowed to have firearms. These “men in blue” do not need them, after all. As for the Broward Coward, knowing how the shooter in this case got life rather than the death penalty, due to the thumb sucking liberals on the jury, I figure this coward will get a slap on the wrist and sent home.

      • ” …due to the thumb sucking liberals on the jury,”

        How do we get fewer “thumb sucking liberals” on the jury?

        “I figure this coward will get a slap on the wrist and sent home.”

        Unfortunately I agree — he’ll get pinched for perjury and given a minimal or suspended sentence.

        • Juries are usually an unpredictable animal, but sometimes you just know how it’s going to go down. The first time I was called in for jury duty, I arrived at the municipal court along with a few dozen other folks. We were ushered in, and the clerk was giving us some info about the voir dire process and the case. The prosecutor and the defense attorney walked in and surveyed the group, and the clerk introduced them. The defense attorney whispered to the prosecutor for a second, then disappeared through a door. The clerk continued, and 5 minutes later the defense attorney returned, whispered to the prosecutor again, and then the prosecutor whispered to the clerk. We were dismissed and thanked for showing up, because the perp had decided to plead guilty. It was a case of purse snatching, and 3/4 of the jury pool that day happened to be little old ladies. Sometimes you just know how it’s going to go down.

        • “We were dismissed and thanked for showing up, because the perp had decided to plead guilty.”

          The exact same thing happened with me, both times I was called…

  11. He isnt a coward he was just waiting on orders.
    I’m sure if he would have gotten the orders to disarm law abiding citizens he would have been very courageous.
    Not Guilty

  12. Back in the day “Scott Peterson, Holy Warrior” was an amazing team name for bar trivia.

    Get the band back together for this guy.

  13. they were his charges, strip the pension.
    he’s not gonna last long in or out, he’s pasty and stressed.
    give him twenty.

  14. “Wow. Just now? So much for “right to a speedy trial.” ”

    “Speedy trial” is to prevent govt from delaying until you die. However….there are good and valid reasons to delay your trial, whether you are guilty, or innocent. In this, and other matters, it is the defendant, not the govt/court delaying trial.

  15. I could not be a juror. I know he is a coward and is derelict in what his assignment was. he can burn in hell for all I care. Same for Uvalde cops.

  16. As I recall, Officer Peterson tried to have the shooter committed to a mental institution about a year before the shooting but the Sheriff and the school shot that down. He also tried just about every other possible intervention at his disposal for the three previous years leading up to the shooting.

    Maybe Scot Peterson isn’t a coward but just decided to not act because he tried to prevent the shooter from harming anyone but was ignored.

    if it were me, I would have taken the shooter down and then made as much “I told you so” publicity as possible.

  17. This seems similar to the MacMinniville Oregon police during the stand off with Dillan Cashman. We now learn during the trial a year after the incident that two officers who claimed that they were outgunned did fire at Mr Cashman with their “patrol rifles” or “duty rifles,” aka AR-15s. No hits. We also learn belatedly that rather than shooting at police or neighbors, Cashman was shooting wildly inside the house. Some of the rounds, just like Elvis, left the building.

  18. This POS will be defended by the finest attorneys the taxpayers of Brevard County can afford…

  19. The fact he man has not taken care of business by now reflects strongly.

    He’s had ample time to think about it and still hasn’t done the right thing.

    .

    • Damn Straight, should have borrowed a gun and bought a bullet right after this happened. How can he live with himself??? What a POS.

      (Bet he drinks soy milk also)

      • Joe,

        “Bet he drinks soy milk also”. Nope, he’s a Bud Light drinker. But only wearing his mommy’s dress and heels.

      • The sad fact is, Joe, he did not put a bullet to his own head, because he does not feel he did anything wrong, and maybe even feels justified by his own actions. Or lack thereof. It is apparent he does not feel guilty enough to do so. Being the coward he is, could not go that far. But, ironically enough, is willing to go that far with someone else’s life. In this case, innocent children (students), and teachers.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong, but IIRC there hasn’t been a school shooting at a facility where the teachers were armed?

  20. I learned decades ago as a young man that the State always protects its own henchmen. The coward cop will get off with a slight slap on the wrist because if the State would convict him then the Powers That Be realize all cops would be at risk for this type of behavior. Remember the State considers “you” as expendable and cops are the only protection for the Powers that Be from “you”.

    • But these are the same State and cops you want to have power over who does and does not own a gun.

      Do you ever have a lucid moment when you realize you’re at least as mentally ill as these mass shooters? Ever? Can you be that unaware?

      • jethro,

        “Do you ever have a lucid moment . . . “. You could have stopped the sentence right there, and the answer would still be “Oh, HELL NO!”.

        “Lucid” and dacian the demented, just like his alleged parents, have never been introduced.

  21. @Chris T in KY
    “It has already started. She was found guilty of not stopping a crime.”

    Not enough public presence to establish sufficient attention as a lead defendant in overturning NICS. Hunter will gather headlines, nationwide.

  22. And here is another one.
    “Former officer sentenced for failure to intervene in Karen Garner case.”
    video 2 min long

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0PLidyGs4A

    I think the Uvalde officers are different in this case. They should actually all be taken out and summarily executed. Which is exactly what happens on the battlefield, to cowards when they run away in the face of the enemy.

  23. When I was a cop I was called for jury duty. Told the judge everyone is guilty.
    he put me on civil trails! It was terrible. I should have kept my mouth shut.

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