Bond set at $102,000 for former BSO Deputy Scot Peterson

Disgraced ex-Parkland school deputy's passport in North Carolina, lawyer says

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Parker Branton - Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Disgraced former Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Scot Peterson appeared in bond court Wednesday, one day after his arrest in connection with the Parkland school shooting that left 17 people dead and 17 others wounded.

Peterson, 56, is charged with seven counts of child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury.

Broward County Judge Jackie Powell set Peterson's bond at $102,000. One of the conditions of Peterson's release was that he surrender his passport.

"My client resides in North Carolina and, as a result, his passport is in North Carolina," Peterson's attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, told the judge, asking for 72 hours to retrieve it.

"Is there no one that could send the client's passport from North Carolina?" Powell asked.

DiRuzzo said he anticipated it would take a couple days to get the passport and was concerned his client would "unnecesarily" remain in jail until that time.

Powell denied the request.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Peterson after a 14-month investigation to determine the actions -- or inaction -- of law enforcement during the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said Peterson, a former school resource deputy, "did absolutely nothing to mitigate" the shooting.

"There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives," Swearingen said.

BSO spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said Peterson was arrested Tuesday after an administrative discipline hearing at BSO headquarters.

Scot Peterson, 56, has been charged with seven counts of child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury.

Peterson's attorney challenged the judge's probable cause determination and the statutory definition of a caregiver relating to the charges.

In the latest motion filed by the attorney it is stated that: "A caregiver means a parent, adult household member, or other person responsible for a child's welfare. The definition of 'other person responsible for a child's welfare' expressly excludes law-enforcement officers acting in an official capacity." 

But families of the victims killed in the Parkland massacre said there is no question that Peterson is guilty of the charges against him.

"He's guilty," Manuel Oliver, who lost his son, Joaquin, in the shooting, said. "He's part of this problem. He was a coward that day. He was there supposedly to save not only the students, (but) the teachers, everyone, and he did nothing. So, now he needs to pay for his mistake, and I'm very glad that this is happening now."

Peterson resigned after being suspended by now-suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. His replacement, Sheriff Gregory Tony, retroactively fired Peterson and Sgt. Brian Miller, who were found to have neglected their duties during the shooting.

"We cannot fulfill our commitment to always protect the security and safety of our Broward County community without doing a thorough assessment of what went wrong that day," Tony said. "I am committed to addressing deficiencies and improving the Broward Sheriff's Office."

Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz said six of the seven child neglect charges are second-degree felonies, while the seventh charge is a third-degree felony because the child wasn't severely injured. He said the perjury and culpable negligence charges are first- and second-degree misdemeanors.

Under the terms of his release, Peterson would be required to wear a GPS monitor, must surrender his passport and would be banned from possessing any firearms.

"I'm anticipating it shouldn't take very long, but obviously the case has to work its way through the normal process," DiRuzzo said.

If convicted on all counts, Peterson could face more than 96 years in prison.

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