Former Cop Charged With Neglect After Parkland School Shooting: 'I Did the Best I Could'

The former school resource officer charged with child neglect for not entering Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when a gunman opened fire on students and teachers in 2018 became emotional following a court hearing Wednesday.

"I didn't do anything there to try and hurt any child there on the scene," Scot Peterson, the former officer tasked with the kids' safety at the school, said to reporters. "I did the best I could with the information. I did the best."

Parkland Memorial
The ex-school resource officer of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the mass shooting on February 14, 2018, became emotional after a Wednesday hearing in which his attorney asked for child neglect charges against the officer to be dropped. In this photo, a person visits a memorial setup at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the one-year anniversary of the shooting on February 14, 2019 in Parkland, Florida. Getty

Peterson, 58, is accused of hiding during the February 14, 2018, shooting in the South Florida school that left 17 people dead. He was arrested in 2019 on charges of child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury after a 14-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Suspected Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz was 19 during the time of the shooting and has been charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder. If convicted of first-degree murder, Cruz faces either the death penalty or life without parole.

During Wednesday's court hearing, Peterson's attorney, Mark Eiglarsh, asked for the seven counts of child negligence and a perjury charge against his client to be dismissed. Eiglarsh argued that since Peterson was not in a caregiving position of being a parent of a child involved or a teacher, he should not be charged with child neglect.

Regarding the perjury charge, Eiglarsh explained that when Peterson was questioned about the shooting, he gave opinions about certain matters like gunshots fired without being aware of the facts.

"We said as a matter of law he should never have been charged under a neglect statute which holds responsible parents, teachers, kidnappers, babysitters, but not resource officers," Eiglarsh said to reporters outside the courtroom. "It's very clear in the statute that law enforcement officers do not apply."

Peterson became emotional and fought back tears while speaking with reporters after the hearing.

"I'll never forget that day. You know, not only kids died, I have friends that died," Peterson said. "And never for a second would I sit there and allow anyone to die, knowing that animal was in that building! Never!"

ABC-affiliate station WPLG reported that Anthony Borges, one of the Parkland shooting survivors, was in the courtroom during the hearing on Wednesday. Borges has been called a hero for saving more than a dozen students during the shooting by using his body to block the door of a classroom, even after he had been critically wounded.

A judge has yet to decide on whether or not to dismiss the charges. Peterson is next scheduled to appear in court in December.