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Very Real

Deputy Called A “Coward” For Not Stopping Parkland Shooting Receives $8k Pension/Month

Video shows Peterson standing outside the school while gunman Nikolas Cruz went on a rampage, killing 17. 

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Scot Peterson, the sheriff’s deputy whose actions during the February 14 Parkland school shooting have been widely criticized, is now receiving a state pension of more than $8,700 a month, CNN reports.

After being suspended by the Broward Sheriff’s Office on February 22, a week after the massacre, Peterson resigned, the Sun Sentinel says, and retired later that day. He began receiving a monthly pension of $8,702.35 a month in April, according to the Sun Sentinel. The monthly payments Peterson receives are based on the 32 years he worked and the average of his five highest-paid fiscal years. Prior to the massacre, Peterson received positive evaluations of his work, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Peterson, 54, was called a “coward” by President Trump for not stopping the shooting, and video later showed the deputy waiting outside while an armed Nikolas Cruz stalked the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, taking the lives of 17 staff members and students, and leaving 17 more injured. Peterson, who was the school resource officer at the time, later claimed that he thought the shooting was coming from outside the building, according to the Sun Sentinel.  

Peterson’s lawyer, Joseph DiRuzzo, responded to the backlash in a statement released on February 26, CBS News reports.

“Let there be no mistake, Mr. Peterson wishes that he could have prevented the untimely passing of the 17 victims on that day, and his heart goes out to the families of the victims in their time of need,” he said. “However, the 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.”

Following the shooting, Sheriff Scott Israel criticized Peterson’s response, the Sun Sentinel reports, commenting that Peterson should have “went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”

The internal affairs division at the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are both investigating response to the shooting, the Miami Herald reports. In a March 28 letter to BSO and the Broward State Attorney's Office, Erin Rock, the Florida Department of Management Services’ secretary, said that neither agency had “provided notice of any charges or other circumstances that would authorize the division to withhold pension benefits from Peterson.”

News of Peterson’s hefty pension has been met with criticism by some, including the parents of some of Cruz’s victims.

“The coward of broward, Scot Peterson is getting over $8k a month pension! He hid while my daughter and 16 others were slaughtered! How in the hell is he getting this? That money should go to actually securing our schools!” wrote Andrew Pollack on Twitter. Pollack’s daughter Meadow was killed during the shooting. Pollack filed a lawsuit on April 30, CBS News reports, accusing Peterson of enabling Cruz. Pollack’s suit also names Cruz, the estate of Cruz's deceased mother, and James and Kimberly Snead, the couple who took Cruz in after the death of his mother, as well as three behavioral and mental health facilities that evaluated Cruz prior to the shooting.

Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jaime during the shooting tweeted, “This infuriates me in ways people cannot comprehend. My daughter would still be alive if this person did his job.”

In response to requests to revoke Peterson’s pension, Florida Gov. Rick Scott told the Tampa Bay Times that he doesn’t have legal grounds to do so.

"Because no charges have been filed, the state is required to provide his pension under Florida law but our agency will be closely monitoring the FDLE investigation for any updates,” Scott’s office said. “If FDLE has found that anyone has broken any laws, they will be held fully accountable.”

(Photo: Scot Peterson resigned as a Broward County Deputy on February 22, 2018, after County Sheriff Scott Israel suspended him for inaction during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. By Broward County Schools/TNS via Getty Images)