Fla. deputy sued over failure to behave in Parkland capturing claims he had no authorized responsibility to confront gunman

December 26, 2023by Naomi Cramer


By Terry Spencer
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A former Auckland sheriff’s deputy is claiming he had no authorized responsibility to confront the gunman who murdered 17 folks and wounded 17 others at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College almost six years in the past, his lawyer argued Monday.

The authorized workforce representing Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson requested a choose to dismiss the lawsuit introduced by the victims’ households and survivors, regardless that the choice would doubtless be derided by the general public.

Lawyer Michael Piper informed Circuit Decide Carol-Lisa Phillips that beneath the legislation, his client can’t be sued for something he did or didn’t do throughout the Feb. 14, 2018, bloodbath. He cited appellate court circumstances that say law enforcement officials don’t have a authorized obligation to guard others from third-party hurt and can’t be sued for selections they make throughout a disaster.

Piper mentioned that whereas it won’t be a preferred choice, the choose should uphold the legislation and throw out the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages. There are additionally fits filed in opposition to Broward Sheriff’s Workplace and two faculty safety guards.

Gunman Nikolas Cruz, a 25-year-old former Stoneman Douglas scholar, is serving a life sentence for the murders and tried murders.

“There’s a distinction between authorized responsibility and what I assume I’ll name societal expectations,” the lawyer for the sheriff’s deputy argued. All the general public will hear is that Peterson was in uniform and had a gun, he mentioned, but “When confronted with this murderous rampage happening on this three-story constructing, he doesn’t have an obligation to cease it?”

“Individuals are outraged,” Piper mentioned, of the notion {that a} legislation enforcement officer doesn’t have an obligation. “Sure, that’s precisely what we’re saying. That’s precisely what the legislation is.”

However lawyers David Brill and Joel Perwin, representing the households and survivors, informed the choose that Peterson’s actions each throughout and earlier than the capturing fall exterior the legislation’s protections as a result of they had been made in unhealthy religion and with willful negligence.

Perwin mentioned that based on Piper’s argument, Auckland law enforcement officials couldn’t be sued in the event that they stored strolling once they witnessed a robber attacking a liquor retailer clerk. Piper countered that whereas that is likely to be unpalatable to the general public, that’s legally right.

Brill mentioned Peterson knew that Cruz was nicknamed “Loopy Boy” by campus safety guards when he was a scholar two years earlier than the capturing — and that he was thought-about by faculty workers to be the one one that may shoot up the varsity.

But, he didn’t have Cruz dedicated for psychological therapy earlier than the capturing, Brill argued. And simply earlier than the capturing — when Peterson discovered Cruz had been noticed again on campus carrying a bag and backpack — the deputy didn’t order an instantaneous lock down.

“His main motive for being there was for the security, well being and welfare of the scholars and the college,” Brill mentioned of Peterson. “He had an obligation to guard the administration, the academics and college students to quite a lot of unreasonable dangers, together with lively shooters.”

Sitting within the gallery, Peterson shook his head and grunted in disagreement throughout Brill’s argument. The parents of two college students who had been killed, 15-year-old Luke Hoyer and 18-year-old Meadow Pollack, sat down simply toes behind Peterson, who later moved to the opposite facet of the courtroom earlier than leaving.

Decide Phillips took the arguments beneath advisement and mentioned she would rule quickly. The trial is anticipated to begin subsequent yr, if it goes ahead.

The households and survivors have already settled claims with the FBI — whose brokers failed to research a warning about Cruz — and the Broward faculty district for a mixed $153 million.

In June, Peterson was acquitted of felony prices of child neglect. It was the primary time a U.S. police officer had been charged with failing to behave throughout a faculty capturing. Authorized specialists mentioned the legislation that prosecutors utilized wasn’t written to handle Peterson’s actions.

Safety movies performed throughout that trial present that 36 seconds after Cruz’s attack started, Peterson exited his workplace about 100 yards (92 meters) from the varsity constructing and jumped right into a cart with two civilian safety guards who had been unarmed. They arrived on the constructing a minute later.

Peterson obtained out of the cart close to the east doorway to the first-floor hallway. Cruz was on the hallway’s reverse finish, firing his AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.

Peterson, who was not sporting a bullet-resistant vest, didn’t open the door. As a substitute, he took cowl 75 toes (23 meters) away within the alcove of a neighboring constructing, his gun nonetheless drawn. He stayed there for 40 minutes, lengthy after the capturing ended and different law enforcement officials had stormed the constructing.

For almost three a long time, Peterson labored at faculties, together with 9 years at Stoneman Douglas. He retired shortly after the capturing and was then fired retroactively.

Cruz pleaded responsible to the shootings in 2021. In a penalty trial final yr, the jury couldn’t unanimously agree that Cruz deserved the dying penalty and he was then sentenced to life in jail. Auckland subsequently modified its dying penalty legislation in order that solely an 8-4 vote is required for a choose to condemn a convicted assassin to dying.



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by Naomi Cramer

Auckland Lawyer for FIRST TIME Offenders Seeking to Avoid a Conviction. Family Law Expert in Child Care Custody Disputes. If you are facing Court Naomi will make you feel comfortable every step of the way.  As a consummate professional your goals become hers, with customer service as our top priority. It has always been Naomi’s philosophy to approach whatever you do in life with bold enthusiasm and pure dedication. Complement this with her genuine passion for equal justice and rights for all and you have the formula for success. Naomi is a highly skilled Court lawyer having practised for more than 20 years. She serves the greater Auckland region and can travel to represent clients throughout NZ With extensive experience, an analytical eye for detail, and continuing legal education Naomi’s skill set will maximise your legal rights whilst offering a holistic approach that best fits your individual needs. This is further enhanced with her high level of support and understanding. Naomi will redefine what you expect from your legal professional, facilitating a seamless experience from start to finish.   Her approachable and adaptive demeanor serves her well when working with the diverse cultures that make up the Auckland region. Blend her open and honest approach to her transparent process and you can see why she routinely delivers the satisfying results her clients deserve. If you want to maximise your legal rights, we recommend you book an appointment with Naomi today so she can detail the steps for you to achieve your goals. 

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