The Florida deputy sheriff condemned by his boss and President Trump for failing to confront a gunman who killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland has begun collecting a lifetime pension of more than $100,000 a year.
Scot Peterson, the resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High during the shootings on Valentine's Day, began receiving his monthly check for $8,702.35 in April, the Florida Department of Management Services said in a statement.
"Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz verified that there were no charges filed against Mr. Peterson that would cause him to forfeit those benefits per Florida law," the statement said. It said the department would monitor a state investigation into law enforcement's response to the assault.
Former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, is accused of the deadliest high school shooting in American history. Peterson rushed to the building but stayed outside during the attack. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson should have "went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer."
Trump described Peterson's behavior as "disgusting" and said the deputy "choked." But, he said, "you never know until you’re tested.”
Peterson, 55, started working for the sheriff's office in 1985. He spent the past nine years as the high school resource officer, appointed to keep the school and its students safe. He was praised in performance reviews — for the period from February 2016 to February 2017, he was rated as exceeding expectations in skills such as critical thinking and decision-making.
In 2016, his annual salary was more than $75,600, overtime pushing it to about $100,000. His pension is based on his years of service and the average of the five highest-paid years.
Peterson's lawyer said his client was unfairly described as a "coward" for following protocol. Joseph DiRuzzo said Peterson believed the gunman was firing outside the school, not inside.
"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," DiRuzzo said.