Israel said last week that he'd suspended Peterson after seeing video footage that captured Peterson's response, hearing witness accounts and getting a statement from the officer. Peterson then resigned, Israel said.
That announcement triggered public outrage against Peterson. President Donald Trump said Monday that it was "disgusting" that the deputy didn't go into the school.
Peterson's lawyer, Joseph DiRuzzo III, said in a statement Monday that Israel had rushed to judge his client without taking into consideration all the facts.
"Let there be no mistake, Mr. Peterson wishes that he could have prevented the untimely passing of the seventeen victims on that day, and his heart goes out to the families of the victims in their time of need," DiRuzzo said.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
"However, the 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. Mr. Peterson is confident that his actions on that day were appropriate under the circumstances and that the video (together with the eye-witness testimony of those on the scene) will exonerate him of any sub-par performance," the statement said.
The statement quoted Peterson saying that when the gunfire first erupted, he "thought that the shots were coming from outside," which was why he "took up a tactical position."
Peterson was the first member of the Broward County Sheriff's Office to report the gunfire, DiRuzzo said. He also gave the local SWAT team keys to the building where the shooting happened, drew diagrams of the campus for them, and helped school administrators access security videos, DiRuzzo said.
The Broward County Sheriff's Office declined to respond to Peterson's statement, citing an ongoing internal affairs investigation. But the office did note that when Peterson was told about that investigation and that he was going to be suspended without pay, he chose to resign.