(NationalUSNews.com) — According to a sheriff who failed to respond to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter and his attorneys, he had no legal duty to confront Nikolas Cruz during the school shooting. The Parkland shooting resulted in 17 deaths and an additional 17 injuries and received national media attention due to the scale of the massacre and the aforementioned sheriff’s failure to respond to the shooting as it unfolded.
The attorneys representing Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson requested a judge dismiss the lawsuit against Peterson, which survivors of the shooting and families of the shooting victims brought against him. Peterson’s lawyer, Michael Piper, is arguing that Peterson had no legal duty to respond to the shooting and that the lawsuit against him is improper. Peterson’s legal team referred to decisions from Florida appellate courts, which established a police officer doesn’t have any legal obligation to people injured by a third party. The appellate court’s decisions also prevent an officer from being held responsible for decisions made during a crisis.
Piper argued that social expectation isn’t the same as legal duty and that Peterson did not violate his role as sheriff by failing to confront Nikolas Cruz. According to Peterson’s team, the deputy is being judged inappropriately simply due to his position as a member of law enforcement. Piper claims that despite the public’s reaction to the appellate court decisions, the law clearly states that Peterson didn’t have any legal obligation to respond to the shooting as it unfolded and cannot be held responsible for his decision to seek safety during the tragedy.
Peterson isn’t the only person sued by victims and their families for their failure to respond to the Parkland Shooting, as the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and multiple school security guards are also facing lawsuits. Each of the lawsuits seeks undisclosed damages, citing the failure to confront Nikolas Cruz as a contributing factor to numerous deaths and injuries.
The attorneys representing the victims’ families and the shooting survivors claim that the law doesn’t protect Peterson’s actions for several reasons. According to attorneys Joel Perwin and David Brill, Peterson acted in bad faith and was willfully negligent by failing to confront Cruz during the shooting. Perwin claims that Piper’s argument would prevent an officer from facing legal consequences, even if they witnessed a violent crime and failed to act.
The judge overseeing the lawsuit against Peterson hasn’t issued a ruling, but should the trial move forward, it will begin in 2024.
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