The good guy with a gun allegedly failed to protect the students.
America’s long history of mass shootings have brought a variety of responses: Calls for tighter gun laws, civil lawsuits against companies that manufacture guns and firearm components, collective mourning. The charges represented a highly unusual case of a lawman arrested for failing to save lives.
Around Parkland, whose politically engaged students helped launch a national student movement for more gun control, there was both surprise and satisfaction.
Mr. Peterson, 56, who had been suspended in the immediate aftermath of the attack and later resigned, faces 11 charges of neglect of a child, culpable negligence and perjury. He was booked into the Broward County jail with a bond of $102,000.
The 15-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that led to the charges, found that the former Broward County sheriff’s deputy, assigned as a school resource officer to Stoneman Douglas High, “did absolutely nothing to mitigate” the shooting, the department’s commissioner, Rick Swearingen, said in a statement. “There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives,” he said.
Officials determined that Mr. Peterson, as well as Sgt. Brian Miller, who was terminated on Tuesday but not charged, “neglected their duties.” Mr. Peterson was taken into custody after an administrative discipline hearing.
Peterson conduct refutes the NRA’s long standing premise that the only way to stop a bad guy with a guy is a good guy with a gun.
The charges were an unusual instance of law enforcement officers being held criminally liable for not protecting the public.
But experts say that criminally charging a law enforcement officer for allegedly being negligent in his response to a mass shooting is new ground.
“This is the first time I have seen somebody so charged like this,” said Clinton R. Van Zandt, a former profiler with the F.B.I. and an expert on mass shootings. “I think that every police officer, sheriff and F.B.I. agent understands that you have to go to the threat and stop it and that we are no longer going to wait for SWAT or set up perimeters.”
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