Two Broward County officers terminated for neglect of duty in Parkland shooting response

Posted at 2:03 PM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 16:03:57-04

Two Broward County Sheriff deputies who responded to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were terminated for neglect of duty, Sheriff Gregory Tony said on Wednesday.

The terminations of deputies Edward Eason and Joshua Stambaugh came as a result of an internal affairs investigation into the police response to the February 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida. The effective dates of their termination are June 25 and June 26, respectively.

The report of the internal affairs investigation is 124 pages and recreates the timeline of the shooting, including diagrams, maps, and interviews with witnesses and police.

The report specifically states seven deputies did not immediately move toward the gunshots and confront the shooter, a violation of accepted department protocol. Of those seven, four have been terminated, including school resource officer Scot Peterson, who is facing criminal charges.

Eason had been employed by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office for 18 years. He was accused e of neglect of duty, failure to meet Sheriff’s Office standards and failure to follow body-worn camera recording protocol, according to the report, and was terminated after the Professional Standards Committee found he was culpable.

Stambaugh had been with the department for about 24 years. He was accused of neglect of duty and failure to meet Sheriff’s Office standards, the report says, and was terminated after the committee found him culpable.

Three other deputies — Brian Goolsby, Michael Kratz and Arthur Perry — were accused of neglect of duty but found to be not guilty, so they will continue in their duties, the report said.

Peterson has faced sharp criticism for not going into the school building to confront the shooter when he heard gunshots. The shooter eventually exited the building on his own, blending in with students evacuating the school. He was captured and arrested about an hour after he first opened fire.

Peterson retired after the February 2018 massacre at the Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 people dead, and was collecting a pension.

He was criminally charged in early June with felony child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury in connection with the deadly shooting, according to a release from the State Attorney’s Office.

In an arrest warrant affidavit, authorities say the gunman killed five students and one teacher and wounded three students and one teacher after Peterson arrived at the 1200 building, then moved 75 feet to another position.

Peterson’s attorney, Joseph A. DiRuzzo III, said the charges appear to be “a thinly veiled attempt at politically motivated retribution against Mr. Peterson.”