When a gunman opened fire inside a high school in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year, one of the biggest questions was why the school resources officer who was on the scene did not do more to intervene… But according to a federal judge, it was not the officer’s job to protect the students.
When suspect Nickolas Cruz opened fire on his fellow students and teachers, the only other person on campus who was also armed was the school resource officer, Scot Peterson. But surveillance footage showed that Peterson waited outside of the school until backup arrived, while students were murdered inside.
A lawsuit filed by 15 students who survived the shooting called Peterson out specifically and claimed that “His arbitrary and conscience-shocking actions and inactions directly and predictably caused children to die, get injured, and get traumatized.”
In defense of his actions, Peterson claimed he had no legal duty to protect the students inside the school. And now a judge is saying that the school resource officer was right. In addition to dismissing the lawsuit, Judge Beth Bloom wrote, “Viewed properly, the claim arises from the actions of (the killer), a third party, and not a state actor.” Therefore, the defendants in the lawsuit—which included the officer, the local sheriff’s office and the school district—had no constitutional duty to protect the students during the shooting.
This falls into accordance with the 2005 case of Castle Rock vs. Gonzalez, where the Supreme Court ruled that the police had no duty to protect three young children who were murdered by their father after officers refused the mother’s pleas to enforce a restraining order.
In response to the Parkland shooting, students across the country participated in a walkout to protest gun regulations. But even though thousands of students came together to call for gun control, the latest revelations from the shooting have received much less attention.