USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- A few days ago, cowardly Broward Co Sheriffs Deputy Scott Peterson, thru his attorney, filed a motion to have the wrongful death suit against him filed by Andrew Pollack ( father of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Mass Shooting Victim Meadow Pollack) dismissed. Peterson’s attorney argued he had no specific legal obligation to provide protection and therefore the suit must be rejected.
The judge hearing the motion denied it, and Pollack and his attorney had very strong ( and well deserved in my opinion) criticisms of Peterson’s willful refusal to act, openly calling him a coward, and rightly so.
Unfortunately, the Judge is wrong, and Peterson’s attorney is correct from a legal standpoint.
There is long-standing and well established legal precedent from both the Fed Courts as well as the Supreme Court that makes it crystal clear that the Police/Govt has NO specific duty to protect individual citizens or groups of Citizens and CANNOT be sued or held liable for failing to have done so.
See Supreme Court decisions in Castle Rock v Gonzales as well as DeShaney v Winnebago County and DC Court of Appeals in Warren v DC.
Warren v DC is probably one of the most well known to those that pay attention to this stuff. The following is the relevant excerpt from that ruling.
“the duty to provide public services is owed to the public at large, and, absent a special relationship between the police and an individual, no specific legal duty exists”
The language used in the other cases is somewhat different, but the blurb from Warren best encompasses the overall tenor of these long-standing decisions.
Earlier I mentioned, “for those that pay attention to this stuff” meaning its almost exclusively those that are attorneys and or Pro 2A advocates, which have used these rulings to add significant weight to their arguments for the right to be armed inside or outside the home for self-defense.
Sadly, based on a review of the overwhelming majority of comments from the general public on various social media and internet news sites, far too many people have found this to be a truly shocking revelation that they were completely unaware of.
Almost all of the comments expressing outrage and horror. Horror at Peterson’s attorney’s argument for dismissal of the suit, as well as the responses to those like myself that point out the aforementioned cases invariably respond with reference to the popular “To Protect and Serve” motto (or variations of it) that is or used to be nearly ubiquitous on the side of Police vehicles.
People are genuinely shocked to learn that this motto or slogan, while certainly a respectable and honorable ideal to live up to, is NOT expressing a legal obligation.
Peterson’s actions( or profound lack thereof) are without a doubt cowardly, detestable and morally reprehensible. Let me be clear, the cowardly dereliction of his moral duty is not and should not be inferred to apply to 99 percent of cops, including those from Coral Springs, who immediately rushed into the building as soon as they arrived.
But there is a distinct difference between a moral obligation and a legal one. And unfortunately, legally speaking, Pollack’s lawsuit against Peterson is highly unlikely to prevail.
If there is any measure of “good” that could be derived some such an unspeakable horror is that more and more people are waking up to the reality. Not only can the Police NOT be everywhere at once and in fact very rarely actually stop a crime in progress, but that they have no actual duty to protect or defend individual citizens from predators or the mentally ill. Reawakening people to the idea that they are their own first responders and ultimately the ones responsible for their and their loved ones safety and self defense.