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  • Joseph A. Del Russo, JD

Professor Del Russo Reacts

06/23/23 the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School "Parkland" Florida massacre and similar attacks are untenable blots on the American experience. similarly- cowardice has no place in law enforcement. but this prosecution of a responding police officer, who reportedly did not follow his active shooter training, to move forward to the sound of gunfire, but rather "hid" in a position of cover is a tragic community expression of emotion based upon unsound legal principles. the statute he is being prosecuted under has nothing to do with what happened that day. i prosecuted scores of negelctful parents and caregvers under NJ's simlarly worded law. this case is a troubling distortion of child protection precedent. not sure how it survived a motion to dismiss the indictment. under Florida law the former police officer must be found to have been "a parent, adult household member or other person responsible for a child's welfare." If jurors find Peterson was a "caregiver", they must determine whether he made a "reasonable effort" to protect the children or failed to provide necessary care. The officer's status as a school resource officer, SRO, does not change the legal calculus.

UPDATE: not guilty on all counts. 06/29/23.

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