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Video: Broward Sheriff Releases Footage Of Deputy Outside During Parkland Shooting

Newly released footage captured by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School security cameras show a Broward sheriff's deputy go toward a building at the time a gunman was shooting inside, but the officer stayed outside with his handgun drawn.

The video, released Thursday by the Broward Sheriff's office, sheds more light on the actions of former deputy Scot Peterson, during the Feb. 14 rampage in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 students and school staff dead, and another 17 people injured.

"The video speaks for itself," the Sheriff's office said in statement that also included the surveillance video.

The statement continued:

"His actions were enough to warrant an internal affairs investigation, as requested by Sheriff Scott Israel on Feb. 21. After being suspended without pay, Peterson chose to resign and immediately retired rather than face possible termination."

The video starts about a minute after the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, began firing his semi-automatic rifle, according to the timeline released by the Sheriff's office.

No audio is on the video and the faces of students and other school staff members are blurred.

The video shows Peterson and a staff member in a golf cart rushing toward the building. Once out of the golf cart, Peterson is seen with his weapon in hand, but standing outside — and apparently not taking cover – all while the massacre is unfolding inside.

During much of the time the shooting was taking place, Peterson was obscured from view by a pole. But parts of him do emerge from time to time.

The video would seem to underscore accusations that Peterson did not act in accordance to the department's active shooter protocol. According to a release by the sheriff's department last week, "training stresses the engagement of a suspect who is actively shooting to 1) eliminate the threat, 2) cause the suspect to barricade or 3) cause the suspect to surrender."

From the video, it does not appear Peterson did any of those things.

Peterson, through his lawyer in the days after the shooting, said the reason he did not enter the building was because he initially thought the shots were coming from outside.

His account seems to be contradicted by the 911 dispatch tapes released by the Broward Sheriff's Office last week. On the tapes, Peterson is heard giving an order to set up a perimeter and not go in after the shooter.

"Do not approach the 12 or 1300 building, stay at least 500 feet away at this point," Peterson said, according to call logs at 2:28pm, seven minutes after the first shots were fired.

Sheriff Israel castigated Peterson a little more than a week after the shooting, saying he should have "went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer."

The video was released in response to a lawsuit from a number of media organizations, against both the Broward Sheriff's Office and the School Board of Broward County.

Earlier this week a judge authorized the video's release.

Cruz, the 19-year-old former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. On Tuesday, the state attorney in Broward County, Fla., announced it intends to seek the death penalty.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.
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