A Florida sheriff's deputy who failed to confront a gunman during a Feb. 14 school massacre is receiving a monthly state pension of $8,702.35.
According to the Florida Department of Management Services, 55-year-old Scot Peterson, who resigned and retired after the shooting, began receiving payments in April.
Surveillance video showed Peterson outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as the gunman killed 17 people inside with an AR-15 assault-style rifle. Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson should have gone inside. President Donald Trump called Peterson a coward.
Peterson later said he thought the shots were coming from outside the building. His attorney Joseph DiRuzzo has previously said his client's response to that kind of threat was in line with the department's training.
Pension payments are based on the 32 years he worked and the average of his five highest-paid fiscal years.
The FDMS spokeswoman Nina Ashley said in an emailed statement to NBC Miami that because there were no charges filed against Peterson, there was no reason to deny him his benefits per Florida law. In a March 28 letter to Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz, Erin Rock, the secretary of the FDMS notes that there were neither charges nor circumstances that "would authorize the division to withhold pension benefits from Peterson.
Last month, the father of teen who was fatally shot in Parkland school tragedy filed a lawsuit against Peterson for not confronting shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz. Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow Pollack was among the 17 victims, said the school's resource officer is his main target in the wrongful death lawsuit filed April 30 in Broward County.
The lawsuit claims a "pusillanimous" Peterson "cowered in a safe location between two concrete walls" as the gunman "rained bullets upon the teachers and students."
"Peterson is my main target," Pollack told the Associated Press. "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."
Cruz has been jailed since the shooting. He faces 17 charges of first-degree murder.
"Let there be no mistake, Mr. Peterson wishes that he could have prevented the untimely passing of the seventeen victims on that day, and his heart goes out to the families of the victims in their time of need," DiRuzzo said in February. "However, the 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."