Judge lowers bond for Parkland school resource officer

Ex-deputy faces 11 counts

By Steve Almasy and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
Broward County Sheriff

Former Broward County Sheriff's Officer Scot Peterson has been charged with child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury in connection to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

(CNN) - Former Broward County, Florida Deputy Scot Peterson, who faces charges over his response to last year's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, paid a considerably reduced bail Thursday.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer lowered Peterson's bond from $102,000 to $39,500 during a hearing in Fort Lauderdale.

Peterson left jail just after 3 p.m. and did not speak to the media. Attorney Joseph DiRuzzo III said "no comment" several times.

Here's what Peterson did

Peterson retired after the massacre that killed 17 people and is collecting a pension, but Sheriff Gregory Tony, who took office in January, fired him during a disciplinary hearing Tuesday. This termination could affect Peterson's retirement pay, he said.

The former school resource officer is facing 11 counts, including culpable negligence, perjury and felony child neglect in connection with the shooting, according to the state attorney's office.

Days after the February 14 massacre, footage surfaced of Peterson taking position near the 700 and 800 buildings at Stoneman Douglas High, where he stayed for more than 45 minutes. Then-Sheriff Scott Israel criticized him and others for not entering the nearby 1200 building when he heard gunshots.

Peterson, the arrest warrant alleges, made a knowingly false statement to investigators by saying he heard only two or three shots when he arrived at the building.

DiRuzzo III said the charges appear to be "a thinly veiled attempt at politically motivated retribution against Mr. Peterson."

His client cannot be prosecuted as a caregiver because he was acting as a law enforcement officer in an official capacity, DiRuzzo said.

The lawyer has said in the past that characterizing Peterson's actions as cowardly is a "gross oversimplification," and Peterson believed the gunshots were coming from outside the building.

With more than 30 years on the job, Peterson had an exemplary record based on his personnel file -- with two nominations for school resource deputy of the year.

Six of the child neglect charges he faces are second-degree felonies, and a conviction on any of them is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff's Office Deputies Association, told CNN by email that he had concerns about the charges.

"In order for there to be neglect, the individual must be a 'caretaker' of the individual," Bell wrote. "Does that mean that every police officer from now on that works a detail where children are present are now subjected to child neglect charges if something happens?"

The union does not consider Peterson a coward, he said.

Also fired Tuesday was Sgt. Brian Miller, a supervisor on the day of the shooting, the sheriff's office said. Bell said the union will fight Miller's dismissal.

CNN's Chuck Johnston and Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.

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