Tallahassee, FL – A Florida legislator has proposed a bill that would strip disgraced retired Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson of his pension for hiding instead of trying to save the 17 students and staff murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“Today I filed a bill to strip the $104,424 annual pension from disgraced Deputy Scot Peterson, the ‘coward of Broward,’” Republican State Representative Spencer Roach posted to his Facebook page on Wednesday morning.
“He was derelict in his duty and hid in a stairwell for 48 minutes while 34 people were shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. His duty was to protect them, and he willfully chose not to do so. In the military, this is punishable by death, but in Florida we award a six-figure pension. This is wrong,” the lawmaker wrote.
The former school resource officer (SRO) is currently paid $8,771 a month by the Florida Retirement System (FRS), the Sun-Sentinel reported.
He was a Broward deputy for 32 years, and pension payments are based on the average of an employee’s five highest paid years.
Roach’s bill proposed taking away all of Peterson’s pension except that which he paid into it himself, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
House Bill 1091 “declares that Deputy Scot Peterson, retired from Broward County Sheriff's Office, shall forfeit all FRS rights & benefits due to his wanton or willful neglect in performance of his assigned duties & contravention of his oath of office.”
Peterson resigned from the Broward Sheriff’s Office shortly after the Valentine’s Day 2018 massacre at the Parkland high school.
Initially, then-Broward Sheriff Scott Israel heralded the SRO for his bravery after a former student went on a shooting spree inside a classroom building.
But then surveillance video from the school and recordings of police radio transmissions revealed that the man charged with protecting the students had hidden outside the building until long after the shooting stopped.
Instead of going into the building to confront the gunman, Sheriff Israel said that surveillance video and witness interviews showed that Deputy Peterson took up a position outside the door to the freshman building that was under attack, but never went inside, WPXI reported.
Eight days after the shootings, Sheriff Israel announced that he had suspended Deputy Peterson and the school resource officer had resigned shortly thereafter.
At the request of former Florida Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement launched a criminal investigation into law enforcement’s response to the Parkland school shooting.
The investigation included an examination of the actions taken by Peterson, who remained outside the building instead of rushing in to help the victims or to confront the active shooter.
When the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission subpoenaed Peterson to appear before them in November of 2018, he stood them up.
Instead, the disgraced school resource officer sent his lawyer to deliver a message that Peterson was suing the commission, the Miami Herald reported.
He also launched a GoFundMe page to solicit $150,000 in donations to fund his legal defense.
The campaign was up for a full day with no donations before somebody anonymously donated $20 and the campaign was taken down.
The lawsuit alleged that the commission has acted outside of its statutory authority, asked a Broward court to quash his subpoena, and requested that Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gaultieri be removed from his position as chairman of the commission.
Peterson’s attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, did not tell the commission that Peterson would not be testifying until he had hand-delivered the lawsuit to them.
He later released a statement accusing the commission of failing to act as a “neutral fact-finding body,” and said that the entity had “succumbed to the not-so-thinly-veiled personal agendas of the commission members,” according to the paper.
On Sep. 5, 2018, the commission watched a second-by-second video account that showed where Deputy Peterson was during the shooting, relative to the location of Cruz, the Sun Sentinel reported.
The video was presented by Broward Sheriff’s Office Detective Zack Scott, who stopped repeatedly during the presentation to explain what exactly was occurring in the footage, including the body count as the shooter progressed through the building.
The video showed that the school resource officer arrived at the building and heard gunshots while the shooter was still on the first floor of the building.
“So if Peterson had gone through the door, he would have encountered the shooter?” Commission Chair and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gaultieri asked.
“Entirely possible,” Det. Scott responded.
Most members of the commission agreed that if Peterson had acted according to current police protocols and policies, fewer people would have died on Feb. 14, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Roach said he planned to introduce the bill to take away Peterson’s pension after the legislative session begins on March 5, FOX News reported.