After being fatally shot while carrying an unloaded pellet gun, the family of Jermaine McBean has expressed their disapproval at the killer deputy still holding an award for “bravery.”
Peter Peraza, the former Broward County deputy who shot and killed McBean as he walked through his apartment complex, was recently indicted on manslaughter charges facing the July 2013 incident.
That summer McBean, a 33-year-old computer engineer, purchased a pellet gun (also known as a BB gun) from a local pawn shop and was walking home with it a while later when Peraza and another deputy arrived. A few local residents saw McBean with the gun and reported it to 911.
Police claimed McBean ignored their commands to stop and relinquish the weapon arguing that there was nothing interfering with his hearing, but a photo later revealed that when McBean was shot, he was wearing headphones in his ears. Police reports also said McBean pointed the gun at them, but one witness said McBean never moved the air rifle from his shoulders.
As the investigation was still pending, Peraza and another officer there at the fatal shooting were awarded the Gold Cross Award following a nomination from Lieutenant Brad J. Ostroff “after they placed themselves in harms way to ensure civilians were protected.”
McBean’s family spoke out saying they are thankful charges have been brought against Peraza, but they also questioned as to why his Gold Cross Award has not been revoked.
“The question I ask is: If a citizen of Broward County with an unloaded air rifle — walking home, minding his own business — is shot and killed, should a deputy still have an award?” asked Alfred McBean, the victim’s brother.
The award has not been nulled despite Sheriff Scott Israel admitting the award process was imperfect and should have been conducted alternatively.
Right now Peraza is free on $25,000 bond awaiting trial.
Keyla Concepcion, a spokeswoman for the sheriff, said no plans have been made to revoke the award “because we don’t want to prejudice the jury, even more so now.”
Peraza’s lawyer said he believes the indictment was a reaction to the multiple police-related shootings of civilians around the nation, and predicted his client would never be convicted.
Peraza may serve up to 30 years in prison if convicted of manslaughter.