And now the lawyers are involved.
Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, the school resource officer who was the first law enforcement officer on the scene at the Florida high school shooting who took no action to stop the carnage, disputes the widely held perception that he is a coward.
In a statement released through his lawyer Monday, Peterson deemed his actions to be “appropriate under the circumstances.”
“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,” said the statement from Fort Lauderdale attorney Joseph DiRuzzo, according to the Miami Herald.
The deputy said he “heard gunshots but believed those gunshots were originating from outside of the buildings on the school campus,” according to the release.
The attorney pointed to radio transmissions about a gunshot victim in the area of the football field, saying this “served to confirm Mr. Peterson’s belief that the shooter, or shooters, were outside.”
This being an important distinction because it impacts the expectations of how the deputy should react based on his training.
“BSO trains its officers that in the event of outdoor gunfire one is to seek cover and assess the situation in order to communicate what one observes with other law enforcement,” the release noted.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel suspended Peterson without pay for failing to engage the gunman, prompting the deputy to then retire.
“I am devastated. Sick to my stomach. He never went in,” Israel said at the time.
When asked what the officer should have done, Israel said, “Went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”
The embattled sheriff, now under intense pressure to resign, questioned his deputies heart over the weekend while disavowing responsibility for his actions.
“Leaders are not responsible for a person. I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility,” the sheriff said.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 27, 2018
President Donald Trump also questioned Peterson’s courage Friday while speaking to reporters.
“He trained his whole life. When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage or something happened, but he certainly did a poor job — there’s no question about that,” the president said.
While stopping short of outright calling Peterson a coward, Trump said the shooting was “a case where somebody was outside. They’re trained. They didn’t react properly under pressure or they were a coward.”
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