Parkland school resource officer Scot Peterson, who resigned amid intense criticism for failing to confront a school shooter while on duty, has asked a judge to keep a looming deposition private to deter any potentially violent disruptions caused by the “extraordinarily high emotionalism” from the father of a slain student and others involved in the tragedy.
Peterson is one of several defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Meadow Pollack, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who was killed in the mass shooting there in February.
In a motion filed by his attorney Thursday, he requested that Broward Judge Patti Englander Henning delay his scheduled Dec. 17 deposition until it is known whether he will be criminally charged, while also ensuring the deposition be held inside the Broward County Courthouse and that no one other than lawyers, a court reporter and a videographer be allowed inside during the proceeding.
Peterson was immediately blamed by his boss, Sheriff Scott Israel, following the shooting for failing to confront the shooter and telling responding officers to stay back. Israel said his deputy’s actions made him “sick” to his stomach.
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He has not spoken publicly since giving an interview to NBC’s Today show in June. In that interview, he defends himself, saying that he did not know gunshots were coming from the 1200 building.
That seems to contradict radio commands he gave during the shooting.
“I think we’ve got shots fired. Possible shots fired. 1200 building,” Peterson said over the radio less than two minutes after Cruz opened fire.
“We’re talking about the 1200 building,” he said soon after.
Peterson, who maintains he followed proper protocol, said he has been subject to insults from the public and members of the state-appointed commission investigating the Parkland shooting, which claimed the lives of 17 students and school staff.
“It would be disingenuous to deny the very real possibility of Peterson’s deposition being disrupted, even to the extent of physical violence,” wrote Michael Piper, Peterson’s attorney, in the filing.
Peterson points to comments left on a crowdfunding page meant to raise money for his legal fees that appeared to encourage his suicide, including from Andrew Pollack, Meadow’s father.
“One poster commented that ‘The only thing we should help him with is which solid tree to hang a noose from,’ his lawyer wrote. “That poster was plaintiff Andrew Pollack.”
Pollack, who has said he wants to be present while Peterson is questioned, did not deny writing the post but said he would not harm him. He called Peterson’s court filing “no surprise.”
“He has repeatedly demonstrated his cowardice on February 14 and since,” he told the Miami Herald. “He trained for 30 years and at the exact moment when he was needed, he didn’t go in [to the school]. He should do the honorable thing.”