Dad of Parkland victim files lawsuit against school resource officer


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 Dad of Parkland victim files lawsuit against school resource officer

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, left, talks alongside Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was murdered in Parkland, and Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, during a news conference at Miami-Dade Police Department in Doral, Fla., on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. Pollack has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against former Broward Sheriff Deputy Scot Peterson, gunman Nikolas Cruz and several others.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Andrew Pollack, the father of one of the 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting victims, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against former Broward Sheriff Deputy Scot Peterson, gunman Nikolas Cruz and several others.

Peterson, who was the Parkland school's resource officer at the time of the Feb.14 attack, has come under immense public criticism for failing to enter the building while the shooting was taking place.

Pollack's suit, filed in Broward Circuit Court on Monday, also listed 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.

The wrongful death lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages and a trial by jury.

"I'm not interested in any money," said Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow was killed. "I just want to expose what a coward (Peterson) was and that he could've saved everybody on the third floor. I don't want him to go anywhere in the country and not have people recognize what a coward he is."

Peterson, a 33-year law enforcement veteran, resigned from the Broward Sheriff's Office on Feb. 23 after video footage showed he never entered the building after the gunman opened fire inside. Sheriff Scott Israel condemned Peterson's inaction, saying the resource officer should have "went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer."

President Donald Trump also called Peterson a coward who "certainly did a poor job."

The lawsuit, filed by attorney David W. Brill, details Peterson's inaction from the moment Cruz stepped into the building, stating that Peterson was the only person armed and trained to deal with an active shooter.

"Instead of actually entering the building as he should have, Peterson positioned himself out of harm's way, though within earshot of the Nikolaz Cruz carnage," the lawsuit states.

It alleges that during the shooting, which took place from 2:22 p.m. until 2:27 p.m., Peterson never attempted to go inside Building 12, "never once attempting to save a life, never once attempting to fire a single bullet at Cruz."

"Rather, Peterson listened to the din of screams of teachers and students, many of whom were dead or dying, and the blasts of Nikolas Cruz' repeated gunfire," the lawsuit states.

Of the other defendants named in the suit, Kimberly and James Snead took Cruz into their home following the death of his mother, Lynda, on Nov. 1. Cruz was living with the family when he carried out his attack at Stoneman Douglas.

The lawsuit alleges Henderson Health and Jerome Golden Center for Behavioral Heath knew or should have known that Cruz suffered from mental illness and was a threat to others.

Peterson's lawyer, Joseph DiRuzzio, defended his client during a February news conference.

"Let there be no mistake, Mr. Peterson wishes that he could have prevented the untimely passing of the 17 victims on that day, and his heart goes out to the families of the victims in their time of need," he said at that time. "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."

After the shooting, Peterson, 54, was suspended without pay but then decided to resign.

Peterson started with the Broward Sheriff's Office in July 1985 and was the school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas since 2009.

Pollack's lawsuit is the second one filed in the aftermath of the shooting. Stoneman Douglas student Anthony Borges, who survived five gunshot wounds during the attack, sued Cruz for assault and battery on April 17.

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

By: Tribune News Service

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