Jury Selection Begins For Scot Peterson Trial: First U.S. Law Enforcement Officer Tried for Inaction in a School Shooting

In an unprecedented legal case, Scot Peterson, a former sheriff’s deputy from Florida, is set to stand trial for his alleged failure to respond during the 2018 Parkland high school shooting, which claimed the lives of 14 students and three staff members.

The trial commences with the selection of the jury, which will examine Peterson’s actions during the six-minute shooting spree carried out by the suspect at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Peterson is accused of remaining outside the building during the attack.

The 60-year-old ex-deputy faces seven counts of felony child neglect related to students killed and injured on the building’s third floor. Despite reaching the building with his firearm drawn prior to the suspect, Peterson reportedly retreated amidst the gunfire. He contends he was uncertain of the shooter’s location.

Peterson is also charged with three counts of culpable negligence for the adults shot on the same floor and a perjury charge for allegedly misleading investigators. If found guilty, he could face up to 100 years in jail and lose his annual pension of $104,000.

However, Peterson is not facing charges for the 11 fatalities and 13 injuries occurring on the first floor before his arrival. The National Association of School Resource Officers confirmed that this is the first instance of a law enforcement officer being tried for inaction during a school shooting.

Despite Peterson’s claims of intending to confront the suspect, believing a sniper was responsible, victims’ families and the public largely view him as a coward. Peterson, who retired and was subsequently fired following the shooting, expressed eagerness for the trial to unveil the truth.

According to legal experts, for a conviction, the prosecution must establish Peterson’s awareness of the internal gunfire and that his action or inaction exposed the victims to risk.

Inside the building, the suspect fired an estimated 70 more shots, while Peterson, positioned outside, instructed arriving deputies to keep distance. It took him nearly an hour to leave his position, long after the suspect had escaped.

The prosecution’s challenge will be to prove Peterson was a legal caregiver for the students and that he failed in his duty to protect them. If found guilty, this case will set a significant precedent in law enforcement responsibility during active shooter situations.

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