Audio recordings of police communications from last month’s mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, contradicted the narrative provided by the deputy stationed outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Former Deputy Scot Peterson, who has resigned since the rampage that left 17 people dead, claimed that he did not enter the building because he thought the gunshots were coming from elsewhere.
In the audio recordings, another deputy said “some students thought it was firecrackers, but we’re not sure, by the football fields.” Peterson responded, “We also heard it’s by, inside the 1200 building.”
After the active shooting had stopped, Peterson directed responding officers not to go near the buildings where he suspected the shooter was.
“Do not approach the 12 or 1300 building, stay at least 500 feet away at this point,” he said over the radio.
According to HuffPost, the sheriff said protocol dictated that Peterson should have engaged the active shooter.
The president of the Broward County Sheriff’s Deputies Association welcomed the release of the recordings and pointed out the inconsistency in the statement issued by Peterson’s lawyer and the calls.
“That contradicts the statement his attorney gave, that he didn’t know where the shots were fired. After multiple gun shots you would have to know where the shots were coming from,” he said.
These recordings will likely open Peterson to even more public criticism. His, apparently, dishonest statements after the shooting, combined with the abrogation of his responsibility while the shooting was occurring, will be met with public scorn and disgust.
The release of these recordings enables police accountability and renders law enforcement officers responsible to the communities they serve. But it is a relatively rare occurrence that a police department releases its records to the public for popular evaluation.
In certain past controversial cases, departments have resisted releasing records.
The bottom line is that Peterson should have stepped up and done more to help save lives, but instead, he remained in the shadows to protect himself and tried to convince other officers to do the same.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: WSVN.com via REUTERS