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The Decision to Criminally Prosecute Florida Law Enforcement Officers Who Fail to Take Action During School Shootings


Florida’s decision to criminally prosecute law-enforcement officer Scott Peterson who failed to take action during a deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school has been controversial from the start. He is one of (or the) only law enforcement officers to be criminally prosecuted for felony child neglect for this oversight.

On June 6, Peterson was freed from jail; following an initial court appearance. His bond was also lowered from $102,000 to $39,500, and he was ordered to turn over his passport. In addition to seven counts of felony child neglect (i.e. failure to protect minors from abuse, exploitation and/or neglect), Peterson is also being charged with perjury and several misdemeanor counts of culpable negligence (i.e. for the “careless disregard” or “reckless indifference” for others). If convicted, he would serve almost 100 years in prison. In addition to the accused shooter, Peterson is the only person facing criminal charges in connection with the event, which arguably involved a number of other authorities as well.

Charges Against Peterson In Connection With Parkland Shooting

Criminal charges being filed against Peterson have been controversial from the start and are based on state prosecutors alleging that Peterson engaged in a criminal failure to perform his duty to protect the lives of students last year when the shooting left a number of people dead and wounded in Parkland, Florida. The investigation conducted by the Florida Department of law-enforcement found that Peterson failed to investigate where the gunfire was coming from and decided to retreat rather than take action during the seven minutes that the shooting lasted. In addition to criminal charges, one of the families of the children who was killed has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him.

There is no question that the decision to prosecute Peterson pushes the bounds of criminal liability, where a number of legal experts have pointed out that while civil lawsuits from family members of those who suffered might be appropriate, criminal charges against Peterson are not. Specifically, time and time again, the law has indicated that there is no constitutional or criminal-based duty for law enforcement officers to protect civilians. Some have pointed out that this directly contradicts with someone in the healthcare profession, such as a nurse or daycare worker).

Contact Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys with Any Questions

If you have had questionable charges brought against you here in Florida in what many would argue is an effort to create a scapegoat for an otherwise difficult, tragic event, contact our experienced Orlando criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can provide you with the very best in legal guidance and defense representation.


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