Things That Matter

Here’s What We Know So Far About The Arrested Parkland Officer Who Hid While Students Were Shot And Killed On Campus

Scot Peterson, 56, was the on-duty resource officer on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School campus on Feb., 14, 2018. That was the day that Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 people in the school while Peterson remained outside never confronting the shooter. He is now in jail facing charges connected to his lack of response during the shooting, including charges of child neglect.

Scot Peterson was the on-duty armed guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida when 17 people were shot and killed.

According to reports, former Broward Deputy Peterson has been charged with 11 felonies because of his inaction during the shooting. Peterson, who is facing charges including child neglect, culpable negligence, and perjury, has long been criticized for hiding during the shooting. While 17 people were killed, Peterson can be seen on camera standing outside of the building and hiding from the shooter for 50 minutes.

The charge for perjury was added because Peterson, under oath, denied hearing gunshots when he first arrives at the building where the shooting occurred.

Credit: @PollackHunter / Instagram

According to The New York Times, one student, Arman Borghei, said he looked out of a window and saw Peterson outside building 1200 where the shooting took place. Peterson allegedly had his gun drawn but was frozen in place doing nothing to locate and confront the shooter.

News of his arrest and charges has been met with celebration from people on social media.

Credit: @ravireport / Twitter

“We cannot fulfill our commitment to always protect the security and safety of our Broward County community without doing a thorough assessment of what went wrong that day,” Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement about terminating Peterson.  “I am committed to addressing deficiencies and improving the Broward Sheriff’s Office.”

People are also so over other people trying to give the former deputy a way out of the responsibility.

Credit: @chrisrowFL / Twitter

We have seen recent examples of unarmed people taking down gunmen to save fellow classmates and coworkers. Peterson was the armed guard on campus and some people argue that his lack of action led to a higher death toll that Valentine’s Day.

Former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students are joining the online discussion to give people a face to attach to the tragedy.

Many of the students and their supporters are happy with Peterson being arrested for negligence allowing people to die. Families and friends who lost loved ones in the shooting at the Florida high school are waiting to see if the trial will unfold in their favor or not.

Check back with mitú as we cover the developments of this story.

READ: After Two Parkland Students Commit Suicide, Community Unites To Share Mental Health Resources

Ring Camera Captures The Moment A Sacramento Police Officer Detained Two Men In Their Own Neighborhood

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Ring Camera Captures The Moment A Sacramento Police Officer Detained Two Men In Their Own Neighborhood

sacsheriff / Instagram

It seems there was some confusion when it came to two neighbors in Sacramento, California being detained over the weekend by a deputy officer. It all started when Ed Dowdy locked his keys and cell phone in his car. He would then contact his neighbor, Omar, to use his phone so he could call for a locksmith. While the two waited outside for the locksmith, security video surveillance shows the two chatting it up outside their gated community homes. 

That’s when a deputy officer showed to their property and things got interesting. The officer originally showed up to the home after an alarm was set off by Omar’s daughter earlier that morning. Upon showing up at the scene the first thing that the officer asked the men a question that surprised them. 

“‘Any of you guys on probation or parole?’” Dowdy told FOX40 when recalling the event. 

Both men didn’t know how to respond to the officer’s question and were caught off guard by the assumption of being criminals. Omar says the officer’s question was out of line and felt they were being marginalized. Dowdy is black and Omar is Latino.  

Two men were detained by the deputy officer after having trouble identifying them. According to the officer, that was enough probable reason to detain them despite the men living in the neighborhood.

“We were just having a conversation right here,” Omar told FOX40. “That kind of surprised me. It kind of shocked us like, why would he even ask that? Like do we look like criminals or something? And to me, I feel like he made up in his mind who we were at that moment.”

According to the DailyMail, Dowdy is an Army veteran and Omar is the owner of a local cleaning business in the Sacramento area.  When Omar attempted to go into his house and retrieve his driver’s license, the officer wouldn’t let him retrieve it. 

“I told him, ‘I’ve got my ID in the house. My wife and kids are inside. Do you want me to go get it? I can go get it,’” Omar told FOX40. “He said, ‘No, I’ll write it down.’ And I even spelled out my name, my last name, gave him my date of birth. He went to go check.”

When the officer came back to the two men he told them that he couldn’t find Omar in his computer system. That was enough to convince the officer to detain them both. 

Luckily for the men, there was Ring video security footage rolling the entire time. 

Credit: KTXL

“You’re out here, outside of a home where an alarm went off, right? You guys are just standing out here and your name isn’t very good,” the deputy officer was heard saying in the security camera footage. “Well, I have reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime is being committed, right? So, I can detain people.”

“We asked for the supervisor,” Omar recalled. “He’s like, ‘I don’t got to call him. I’m not going to waste his time.'”

Dowdy says that the officer acted “belligerent” and searched him “without my consent.” He was detained as well just for being right there at the scene. 

“And he said, ‘No, you don’t go nowhere either because I got to detain you.’ I said, ‘For what? For having a conversation out here?’” Dowdy said. “I don’t feel like we should be yelled at or put in handcuffs or frisked or searched.”

Omar’s wife eventually came out of the house and showed the officer her husband’s ID. They were both released after a fellow sergeant showed up to check on the false alarm call.

Credit: KTXL

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Tess Deterding reviewed the security surveillance video and released the following statement:

“From a general review of the video, it does not appear there is any violation of policy or law. However, the video is insufficient in terms of drawing a conclusion. If these individuals feel the situation was not handled appropriately by Sheriff’s Office personnel, we encourage them to contact us so we may gather more information.”

Both of the two neighbors told FOX40 that they felt mistreated by the incident and cooperated with the officer’s requests. “There are so many different ways it could’ve been handled,” Omar said. 

It’s unknown at this time if the two men will indeed follow up on the incident. 

READ: Some Middle School Girls Staged a Protest With Tampon-Shaped Cookies After Their Principal Said They’d “abuse the privilege” of Period Products

Over 400 Oklahoma Inmates Were Released In Largest Commutation In History And Their Stories Are Powerful

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Over 400 Oklahoma Inmates Were Released In Largest Commutation In History And Their Stories Are Powerful

Mike Simms

On Monday, more than 400 Oklahoma inmates were released from prison following the nation’s largest single-day mass commutation in history. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board unanimously voted to commute the sentences of 527 state inmates. Yesterday, 462 of them were able to walk free while 65 are being held on detainer. 

Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, former mortgage company CEO, and criminal justice reform advocate, has pledged to step away from outdated policies. Oklahoma has the second-highest incarceration (after Louisiana) in the United States, according to the Sentencing Project.

The freed inmates are all low-level or non-violent offenders who may not have been commuted without Oklahoma voters’ approving criminal justice proposals in 2016. 

Oklahoma governor greets freed inmates at a woman’s prison.

Stitt said he believes the commutation will give many residents a “second chance” at a news conference. 

“This marks an important milestone of Oklahomans wanting to focus the state’s efforts on helping those with nonviolent offenses achieve better outcomes in life,” Stitt said, according to NBC News. “The historic commutation of individuals in Oklahoma’s prisons is only possible because our state agencies, elected officials, and partnering organizations put aside politics and worked together to move the needle.”

The governor attended Dr. Eddie Warrior Center, an all-women’s prison, where now-former inmates were emotionally embracing family and friends. 

“We really want you to have a successful future,” Stitt told the crowd. “This is the first day of the rest of your life. … Let’s make it so you guys do not come back here again.”

The state plans on going beyond just releasing inmates.

“With this vote, we are fulfilling the will of Oklahomans,” Steve Bickley, executive director of the parole board, said in a statement Friday. “However, from Day One, the goal of this project has been more than just the release of low-level, nonviolent offenders, but the successful re-entry of these individuals back into society.”

The state government is not just releasing the inmates, but also making sure they receive a proper government-issued driver’s license or ID card. These are essential items that allow inmates to reintegrate back into society, making jobs and housing more attainable. 

“It has been a moving experience to see our state and community partners help connect our inmates with the resources they need for a successful reentry and I thank Governor Stitt, DOC Director Scott Crow, and the many local nonprofits, churches, and job creators that stepped up to ensure these inmates have every opportunity for success,” Bickley said. 

Voters usher in a new era of criminal justice reform in Oklahoma.

 In 2016, Oklahoma voters approved a ballot measure by a 16 percentage point margin to decrease prison rolls, and to downgrade drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. 

“Basically, in Oklahoma, we’re just warehousing people in prison, and we’re not trying to rehabilitate anybody because of budget constraints,” Bobby Cleveland, a Republican state representative and chairman of the Public Safety Committee, told the New York Times

Stitt, who was elected in 2018, also signed a bill this year that retroactively adjusted sentences for those who had their charges downgraded. This paved the way for the mass commutation to happen expediently. 

The United States has the highest incarceration in the world.

The United States has the largest prison population in the world. According to the Sentencing Project, the 500 percent increase in incarceration rates over the last 40 years is due to policy not an increase in crime. In fact, crime, especially violent crimes have significantly decreased, dropping by 51 percent to 71 percent between 1993 and 2018, Pew Research notes

“Since the official beginning of the War on Drugs in the 1980s, the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses in the U.S. skyrocketed from 40,900 in 1980 to 452,964 in 2017,” the Sentencing Project claims. “Today, there are more people behind bars for a drug offense than the number of people who were in prison or jail for any crime in 1980. The number of people sentenced to prison for property and violent crimes has also increased even during periods when crime rates have declined.”

Unnecessarily high incarceration rates have negative effects on various communities. Moreover, they specifically harm communities of color who are often targets of law enforcement despite numerous studies that show races and ethnicities commit crimes at roughly the same rates. 

While people of color are 37 percent of the United States population, they make up 67 percent of the prison population. Black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated as white men while Latinx men are twice as likely — both groups face harsher sentences for committing the same crimes as their white peers. 

Oklahoma, a state where Trump swept every county in 2016, illuminates how criminal justice reform has become a bipartisan issue — simply too many people are affected for the issue to go unchallenged.