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Deputy vilified after Parkland killings gets $100,000 annual pension

| Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 6:03 p.m.
This Feb. 14, 2018 frame from security video provided by the Broward County Sheriff's Office shows deputy Scot Peterson, right, outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The video released Thursday, March 15, shows Peterson going toward the high school building while a gunman massacred 17 students and staff members, but stayed outside with his handgun drawn.
Broward County Sheriff's Office
This Feb. 14, 2018 frame from security video provided by the Broward County Sheriff's Office shows deputy Scot Peterson, right, outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The video released Thursday, March 15, shows Peterson going toward the high school building while a gunman massacred 17 students and staff members, but stayed outside with his handgun drawn.

The former Broward County sheriff's deputy who did not enter a Parkland, Fla., high school during the massacre there receives more than $100,000 in an annual pension, the state revealed, triggering outrage among the parents of slain students and renewed accusations of cowardice.

In a statement Wednesday, the Florida Department of Management Services said Scot Peterson began receiving his $8,702.35 monthly pension in April after the county attorney general, Michael Satz, found no charges against him that would force Peterson to forfeit his pension.

"The department will continue to monitor the ongoing investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and will continue to follow the law," spokeswoman Nina Ashley told The Washington Post in the statement.

Peterson took a defense position outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and did not enter the building, even as a gunman killed 17 people in the February incident, videos released by police showed.

President Trump called a Peterson a "coward," and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he was "disgusted" and "just demoralized" by his actions. Peterson resigned Feb. 22, eight days after the killings, amid intense public scrutiny.

He served a total of 32 years as a deputy on the force.

The recent revelations about Peterson's compensation, which would total more than $100,000 annually, sparked a backlash among two vocal parents of students killed in the Parkland shooting.

"This infuriates me in ways people cannot comprehend. My daughter would still be alive if this person did his job," Fred Guttenberg, father of slain student Jaime Guttenberg, said in response to the news, first reported by the Sun-Sentinel.

Andrew Pollack, who lost daughter Meadow in the shooting and filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Peterson in April, also criticized the former deputy.

"The coward of broward, Scot Peterson is getting over $8k a month pension! He hid while my daughter and 16 others were slaughtered!" Pollack said on Twitter. "How in the hell is he getting this? That money should go to actually securing our schools!"

He told the Sun-Sentinel that the funds should be used for school safety measures or scholarships for wounded students.

Peterson's lawyer said his client was unfairly described as a "coward" for following protocol. Joseph DiRuzzo said Peterson believed the gunman was firing outside the school, not inside.

"Allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue," DiRuzzo said.

Because of that, DiRuzzo said, Peterson "took up a tactical position" to try to assess the situation.

The video footage captured Peterson hurrying across the campus as the massacre was unfolding and then — while, police said, the shooting continued — standing outside for several minutes without seeming to take cover.

Peterson should have gone in "and addressed the killer," Israel said. "Killed the killer."

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