By Monique O. Madan Miami Herald
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — When Meadow Pollack died, nine bullets had riddled her petite body.
The Parkland shooting victim was one of 17 students and educators killed Feb. 14 when confessed gunman NIkolas Cruz shot up the halls of Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an assault-style weapon.
Not far away was Scot Peterson, a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy and Stoneman’s school resource officer who heard the shooting, but stood outside the building as Cruz opened fire on his classmates.
“He let my daughter get shot nine times at point-blank range,” the girl’s father, Andrew Pollack, told the Miami Herald. “He had the opportunity to go in and instead, let all those people get murdered.”
On Monday, Pollack filed a lawsuit against Peterson, Broward County court records show.
In the wrongful death lawsuit, Peterson, a 33-year law enforcement officer who was suspended without pay and immediately resigned and retired after the shooting, is listed as a defendant alongside Cruz. Also named as defendants: the estate of Cruz’s late mother, as well as James and Kimberly Snead — the couple who took Cruz in when his mother died.
And three behavioral and mental health facilities — Henderson Behavioral Health, Jerome Golden Center for Behavioral Health and South County Mental Health Center — which at some point evaluated Cruz.
“Peterson is my main target,” Pollack said. “He could have stopped it. Could have saved my kid. Nobody should be able to not do their job, receive a pension and ride off into the sunset.”
The lawsuit chronicles the most recent years of Cruz’s life, detailing how the teen “suffered from severe mental illness and was prone to violence.”
In 2016, Cruz posted a photo of himself on Instagram with guns saying he wanted to shoot up the school. Shortly after, a BSO deputy responded to his home and discovered he had knives and a BB gun. That information was ultimately turned over to Peterson, the complaint says.
Also reported to Peterson: reports of Cruz cutting himself, ingesting gasoline to commit suicide, had drawn a swastika on his book bag and told a friend he wanted to buy a gun for hunting, according to the complaint.
And when that same Cruz shot up the school on Valentine’s Day, a “pusillanimous” Peterson “cowered in a safe location between two concrete walls” as it “rained bullets upon the teachers and students,” according to the complaint.
“Instead of actually entering Building 12 as he should have, Scot Peterson positioned himself out of harm’s way, though within earshot of Nikolas Cruz’s carnage,” the 26-page lawsuit said.
Peterson’s attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
In February, Peterson pushed back against the critics in his first public statement, essentially arguing he did the right things in an uncertain, chaotic situation.
“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,” according to the statement sent from DiRuzzo.
Pollack strongly disagrees.
“My daughter died crawling by a doorway — shielding a classmate who also ended up dying — waiting for someone to come help her,” he said. “Help never came.”
©2018 Miami Herald