The attorney representing former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says last week’s arrest of school resource officer Scot Peterson could reveal some “significant” details about Israel’s role involving the sheriff department’s response in last year’s shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17.
Speaking by phone during a Monday morning pre-hearing before a special master considering Israel’si suspension on behalf of the Florida Senate, Benedict Kuehne, Israel’s attorney, said information in the Peterson case could help clear his client.
“Because we do not know what it is in that material compiled by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, but we’re aware that FDLE had been conducting an investigation of the shooting,” said Kuehne. “We believe there may be some significant information in the FDLE files … that are favorable to Sheriff Israel, particularly with regard to the allegations in this matter that he was incompetent and neglected his duties.”
An FDLE report found Peterson, a school resource officer, was in a position to engage the shooter and “mitigate harm to others and he willfully decided not to do so.” Peterson was charged last week with 11 criminal counts, including child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury.
Special Master Dudley Goodlette gave Kuehne until 5 p.m. Tuesday to file a motion asking for an extension in the case to have more time to obtain witness statements and reports from the Peterson case. He granted attorneys for the Governor’s Office, which suspended Israel, until 5 p.m. Wednesday to respond.
The state constitution grants the governor authority to suspend local officials from office for incompetence and neglect of duty. Suspensions can be challenged in the Florida Senate, a route Israel has chosen to pursue.
Israel was suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis in January for “neglect of duty” and “incompetence” for his role during and after the February 2018 shooting at the Parkland school shooting.
For now, Israel’s hearing before the Senate special master to appeal the suspension is slated to begin June 18.
Following Monday’s pre-hearing, a spokeswoman for the Senate said any recommendation made by Goodlette in his final report could be taken up before the Senate’s Rules Committee sometime in the fall, with a decision being made by the full Senate to come later.