(PartiallyPolitics.com) – The jury on Thursday declared Scot Peterson, a past school safety officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, acquitted on all 11 charges tied to his behavior during the tragic 2018 mass shooting.
This verdict came after an intense four days of deliberation over 19 hours, during which the jury ultimately decided that Peterson was not guilty for any of the 11 accusations against him. The former officer had faced extensive criticism for his lack of direct engagement with Nikolas Cruz, the shooter, during the deadly six-minute event which led to 17 fatalities and many others injured.
Peterson was confronted with charges such as neglecting children, gross negligence, and giving false testimony. Had the jury ruled him guilty, he would have been at risk of losing his retirement benefits and potentially being incarcerated. Upon hearing the verdict of his innocence, Peterson was moved to tears and embraced his loved ones as the court session came to a close.
In the two-week duration of the trial, numerous students, educators, and law enforcement officials were summoned to provide their testimonies. Some claimed that they were aware that the gunshots were originating from within the school. Testimony from a superior also suggested that Peterson had failed to adhere to established active shooter protocols.
Nevertheless, Peterson’s defense lawyer countered these claims by stating his client was unable to ascertain the source of the gunshots due to the echo effect. Additionally, several deputies, students, and teachers vouched that they too were uncertain that the shots were coming from within the school structure.
Furthermore, the defense underscored that the sheriff’s communication system had malfunctioned, hindering Peterson’s ability to know that additional law enforcement was arriving at the scene.
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