FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A judge dismissed a manslaughter charge, Wednesday, against a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy who said he pulled the trigger in self-defense.
The deputy, 37-year-old Peter Peraza, shot and killed 33-year-old Jermaine McBean, who was walking outside, holding a pellet gun, back in July 2013.
Peraza was facing 30 years in prison if convicted of first-degree felony manslaughter, but a Broward judge issued a 36-page ruling siding with the defense and dismissed the case.
McBean’s mother, Jennifer Young, said she would take the case further. “I was extremely depressed,” Young said. “And we have to take this further, because that’s not right, that’s wrong.”
McBean was walking down the street near his Oakland Park apartment with his newly purchased pellet gun. Nearby residents called 911, reporting McBean was walking around with a gun.
Peraza was one of the deputies that responded to the call. He said that once he arrived to the scene, he ordered McBean to drop his gun. When the 33-year-old did not drop the gun, shots were fired by the deputy.
A witness released a picture that showed McBean with earbuds in his ear. McBean’s family said that was the only reason why he would have ignored an order from an officer to drop a weapon.
“Mr. McBean was walking down our streets and pointed a firearm at Deputy Peraza,” said Peraza’s attorney Eric Schwartzreich. “There never should’ve been indictment, and today he has been cleared. This is a very important case for all of law enforcement in our community so they can go out there and protect us and not be afraid to do their jobs. We need Deputy Peraza back on our streets today.”
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, Peraza’s former boss, released the following statement: “A life was lost, and this is a tragedy no matter how you look at it. As sheriff, I was elected to enforce laws and keep our citizens safe. I pray for God to comfort all those affected and for our community to begin to heal and find peace.”
In his ruling, Judge Michael Usan said Peraza was justified in defending himself and wrote, “McBean was not acting rationally.”
At a Black Lives Matter meeting in the African American Research Library in Fort Lauderdale, Wednesday evening, McBean’s brother called that a smoke screen.
“What did that matter in the last two minutes of his life when they walked up and shot him,” McBean’s brother, Jermaine, said. “Did they know that beforehand? No. Peter Peraza deserved a trial by jurors just like any other member of the community.”
Young said they still hope to force Peraza to go to trial.
“He found a loophole to run away from his responsibility,” Young said. “We’re waiting for him to go to trial, and we’re going to try to find a way to get him to go to trial.”
The State Attorney’s Office said they will appeal the decision to dismiss the case, but as of Wednesday, no trial has been scheduled.
The family has several civil lawsuits pending as well.
The deputy has been on unpaid suspension since his indictment.
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