Parkland Officer Arrested for Neglect of Child, Culpable Negligence

Scot Peterson / Twitter Screenshot

Broward County Sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson was fired and then arrested shortly afterwards Tuesday on multiple charges, including neglect of a child and culpable negligence.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, or FDLE, conducted an investigation for 15 months into the actions of law enforcement following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, resulting in the death of 17 children, teachers, and staff, and 17 others wounded. Peterson was arrested on seven counts of neglect of a child, three counts of culpable negligence, and one count of perjury.

Shortly after Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony took command of the department early last year, he started an internal investigation into seven deputies to determine whether their actions on the day of the Parkland shooting complied with Broward Sheriff's Office standards. He announced the firing of Peterson and Sergeant Brian Miller on Tuesday.

"The FDLE investigation shows former Deputy Peterson did absolutely nothing to mitigate the MSD shooting that killed 17 children, teachers and staff and injured 17 others," said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen in a statement. "There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives."

"Peterson was the school resource officer at MSD High School during the school shooting," FDLE's announcement said. "The investigation shows Peterson refused to investigate the source of gunshots, retreated during the active shooting while victims were being shot and directed other law enforcement who arrived on scene to remain 500 feet away from the building."

Tony said he was "pleased the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in conjunction with the State Attorney's Office conducted a thorough investigation that yielded the arrest of Scot Peterson."

"All the facts related to Mr. Peterson's failure to act during the MSD massacre clearly warranted both termination of employment and criminal charges," Tony said.

CBS Miami reported Peterson was booked into the Broward County Main Jail and that the bond was set at $102,000.

If he bonds out, he will have to wear a monitoring device, surrender his passport, and is banned from possessing any firearms while the case is pending.

Six of the seven child neglect charges are second-degree felonies and carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. The seventh child neglect charge is a third-degree felony (because the child was not severely injured) with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The perjury charge is a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail. The three charges of culpable negligence are second-degree misdemeanors with a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail.

If convicted, the 11 charges technically carry a maximum potential punishment of 96 ½ years in state prison.