The attorney for a former sheriff’s deputy, who authorities said stood outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida for nearly four minutes as a gunman killed 17 people inside on Valentine’s Day, said Monday that he believes video footage will exonerate his client.
Former Broward County sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson resigned from the sheriff's office last week after he was suspended without pay. Peterson was the only armed officer at the school at the time of the shooting, which lasted six minutes and claimed the lives of 14 students and three teachers.
"He never went in," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said last week.
Attorney Joseph DiRuzzo said in a news release obtained by WFOR that Israel’s account of Peterson’s actions is “at best, gross oversimplification of the events that transpired.”
Through his attorney, Peterson said he was initially called to respond to a report of firecrackers outside the building where the shooting was taking place. It sounded as though the gunshots were coming from outside the school buildings, so he took up a tactical position, he said. He notified deputies about the gunshots and initiated a code red lockdown at the school.
“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.
Records obtained by The Palm Beach Post showed Peterson had a strong work history at the sheriff’s office.
Officials continue to investigate the shooting and the response of law enforcement agencies.
Some politicians have called for Israel’s resignation because his office ignored warnings about Nikolas Cruz, 19, reported in more than a dozen tipster calls.
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran also alleged that the sheriff did not properly train Peterson.
Cruz was arrested after the shooting on Feb. 14. He is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.