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Deputy acquitted of all charges for failing to act during deadly school shooting in US

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA (AP) – A Florida sheriff’s deputy was acquitted on Thursday of felony child neglect and other charges for failing to act during the 2018 Parkland school massacre, concluding the first trial in United States (US) history of a law enforcement officer for conduct during an on-campus shooting.

Former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson wept as the verdicts were read, while the fathers of two students murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, stared straight ahead and quickly left the courtroom. The jury had deliberated for 19 hours over four days.

After court adjourned, Peterson, his family and friends rushed into a group hug as they whooped, hollered and cried. Kevin Bolling, Peterson’s private investigator, chased after lead prosecutor Chris Killoran and said something. Killoran turned and snapped at him, “Way to be a good winner” and slapped him on the shoulder. Members of the prosecution team then nudged Killoran out of the courtroom.

“I got my life back. We’ve got our life back,” Peterson said as he exited the courtroom, his arm around his wife, Lydia Rodriguez, and his lawyer, Mark Eiglarsh. He has insisted that he would have confronted the shooter Nikolas Cruz, but because of echoes, he didn’t know where the shots were coming from. “It’s been an emotional roller coaster for so long.”

He also said people should never forget the victims.

“Only one person was to blame and it was that monster (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 one day sit down with the Parkland parents and spouses – some of whom have publicly called him “the coward of Broward”. He wants 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.”

Scot Peterson. PHOTO: AP
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