Opening Statements Delivered in Trial of Parkland School Resource Officer
The trial of former Parkland school resource officer Scot Peterson began on Monday, June 7th, with the delivery of opening statements in a Broward County courtroom. Peterson was charged with multiple counts of child neglect and culpable negligence after he failed to confront the shooter during the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Prosecutors argued in their opening statement that Peterson had a duty to protect the students and staff of the school, but instead chose to hide outside the building and wait for backup. They played surveillance footage from the shooting that showed Peterson standing outside, gun drawn, but not entering the building.
“The defendant’s actions were completely contrary to his training, completely contrary to his duty, and completely contrary to his oath,” said prosecutor Tim Donnelly.
Peterson’s defense team argued that he believed the shooter was outside the building and was following protocol by setting up a perimeter and waiting for backup. They also said that Peterson had been diagnosed with PTSD since the shooting and that his actions were the result of a panic attack.
“He was scared. He wasn’t a coward,” said defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh.
The trial is expected to last for several weeks, with witnesses including current and former law enforcement officials, survivors of the shooting, and family members of the victims. If convicted, Peterson could face up to 97 years in prison.