News & Politics

Father of Parkland Shooting Victim Sues former Broward Sheriff Deputy Scot Peterson

Andrew Pollack, father of slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Meadow Jade Pollack, joined by his sons. White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The father of one of the Parkland, Florida, shooting victims has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against former Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Scot Peterson, gunman Nikolas Cruz, and several others, the Miami Herald reported Monday.

Peterson is the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School resource deputy who was immediately suspended without pay before he resigned following the February 14 shooting.

Peterson heard the gunfire that day, but instead of running toward it, he lingered outside the building while Cruz was inside shooting everything that moved. Seventeen people were shot dead and seventeen more were injured during the rampage.

One of those who died was 18-year-old Meadow Pollack. Her father said in a tweet Monday that he wanted to expose “the coward of Broward.”

“He let my daughter get shot nine times at point-blank range,” Pollack told the Miami Herald. “He had the opportunity to go in and instead, let all those people get murdered.”

In addition to Peterson and  Cruz, Pollack’s suit, which was filed in  Broward Circuit Court on Monday, lists as defendants the estate of Lynda Cruz, James Snead, Kimberly Snead, Henderson Behavioral Health, Jerome Golden Center for Behavioral Health INC, and South County Mental Health Center, INC.

“Peterson is my main target,” Pollack said. “He could have stopped it. Could have saved my kid. Nobody should be able to not do their job, receive a pension and ride off into the sunset.”

The lawsuit chronicles the most recent years of Cruz’s life, detailing how the teen “suffered from severe mental illness and was prone to violence.”

In 2016, Cruz posted a photo of himself on Instagram with guns saying he wanted to shoot up the school. Shortly after, a BSO deputy responded to his home and discovered he had knives and a BB gun. That information was ultimately turned over to Peterson, the complaint says.

Also reported to Peterson: reports of Cruz cutting himself, ingesting gasoline to commit suicide, had drawn a swastika on his book bag and told a friend he wanted to buy a gun for hunting, according to the complaint.

And when that same Cruz shot up the school on Valentine’s Day, a “pusillanimous” Peterson “cowered in a safe location between two concrete walls” as it “rained bullets upon the teachers and students,” according to the complaint.

“Instead of actually entering Building 12 as he should have, Scot Peterson positioned himself out of harm’s way, though within earshot of Nikolas Cruz’s carnage,” the 26-page lawsuit says.

In his first public statement after the shooting last February, Peterson pushed back against the critics, arguing he did the right things in an uncertain, chaotic situation.

“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,” Peterson’s lawyer, Joseph A. DiRuzzo III, said in a written statement.

Pollack begged to differ:

“My daughter died crawling by a doorway — shielding a classmate who also ended up dying — waiting for someone to come help her,” he said. “Help never came.”

DiRuzzo did not respond to the Miami Herald’s requests for comment Monday.

Peterson’s former boss, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, is also facing extreme criticism for his actions (or lack thereof) before, during and after the shooting.

A deputies’ union last week expressed “no confidence” in the sheriff’s leadership, voting 85 percent (534 out of 628) against the sheriff.

“He fails to listen to the people, he fails to listen to the leadership,” said Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association. “Amazing leadership starts from the top, and there is no amazing leadership here. We are a ship out at sea with no power — adrift.”