After a second day of deliberations, jurors have yet to reach a verdict in the trial of Scot Peterson, the former school resource officer who faced charges related to his response during the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Parkland Shooting Trial
The Parkland shooting trial is a rare instance of prosecuting a law enforcement officer for their conduct during a mass shooting.
According to CNN, prosecutors argued that Peterson, a former deputy for the Broward Sheriff’s Office, neglected his duty and failed to take action as 17 individuals, including 14 students, were killed in the deadliest high school Parkland shooting in US history.
They asserted that Peterson should have entered the building and confronted the shooter, emphasizing that his role was to investigate and make his presence known.
The verdict of this Parkland shooting case carries significance amidst the ongoing issue of mass and school shootings in America.
Gun Violence Archive reports that there have been approximately 331 shootings resulting in at least four wounded individuals (excluding the shooter) so far this year.
During deliberations, the jurors requested to review certain pieces of evidence, including visual aids used by both the prosecution and the defense. However, the court declined to provide these aids as they were not formally introduced into evidence.
The jurors also inquired about a password required to access a hard drive containing the state’s evidence, and prosecutors provided them with the necessary instructions.
Scot Peterson’s Parkland Shooting Response
Peterson stands accused of neglecting his active shooter training by taking cover outside the school for over 45 minutes instead of engaging the gunman.
The charges against him include felony counts of child neglect, misdemeanor counts of culpable negligence, and perjury for lying to investigators about the gunshots he heard.
Defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh argued that Peterson, like other witnesses, could not accurately determine the shooter’s location due to the chaotic situation.
Moreover, Eiglarsh stated that even if Peterson had known the shooter’s whereabouts, his actions would not have made a significant difference. He emphasized that the responsibility for the shooting lies solely with the perpetrator, who pleaded guilty to multiple counts of murder and attempted murder.
The trial shed light on the role of law enforcement in such incidents, with testimonies from former students, staff, and other law enforcement officials.
Supporters of Peterson claimed that it was challenging to identify the source of gunfire, while others testified that they knew the shots were coming from the building where the victims were located.
As deliberations continue into the following day, the jury’s decision will have implications for the accountability of law enforcement officers in mass shooting incidents and the ongoing efforts to prevent such tragedies.