Broward Sheriff's Deputy Indicted in 2013 Shooting of Man With Air Rifle

A grand jury in Broward County, Florida, has formally charged a deputy in the deadly 2013 shooting of a man who was walking home with an unloaded air rifle.

Broward Sheriff's Deputy Peter Peraza was indicted Friday on a charge of manslaughter with a firearm in the death of 33-year-old Jermaine McBean, the Broward State Attorney's Office said. The charge is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Peraza surrendered at the Broward County Jail Friday morning and will be arraigned in the next three or four weeks, according to the state attorney's office.

He appeared in court later Friday where his bond was set at $25,000. He posted bond just before 8 p.m. the same day.

His attorney, Eric Schwartzreich, said Peraza was doing his job when he shot McBean and expects his client to be cleared of the charge.

Schwartzreich said Peraza had no choice but to treat the authentic-looking rifle as a real gun that was a threat to the public.

McBean was carrying an unloaded Winchester air rifle he had just purchased from a pawn shop when Peraza shot him outside his apartment on July 31, 2013. Authorities said 911 callers had reported seeing a man carrying what looked like a rifle.

McBean's family said he was wearing earbuds at the time of the shooting. A photo of the computer engineer just after he was killed shows earbuds in his ears, NBC News reported

Witness Michael Russell McCarthy told NBC News he had called 911 over concerns about seeing McBean walking with the air rifle. But he said McBean never pointed it at police and was turning around to face them when one officer opened fire. He said he regretted having made his 911 call. 

The FBI opened an investigation into the shooting earlier this year. McBean's family filed a federal lawsuit in the shooting in May.

The grand jury heard testimony over the course of three days before indicting Peraza, who received a bravery award from the BSO for the shooting while it was still under investigation.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel released a statement Friday saying Peraza has been suspended without pay.

"We respect the grand jury process, and consistent with past practice, I have suspended Deputy Peraza without pay. Now, the case will go forward in the courts and a jury will weigh all the evidence and render a verdict," the statement read. "For everyone in this case - the McBean family, the Peraza family, the BSO family, everyone in our community - we want truth and justice to prevail."

It's the first time since 1980 that a Broward County officer has been indicted for a fatal on-duty shooting, NBC News reported.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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