What to Know
- Peter Peraza was the first officer in three decades to be charged with an on-duty shooting in Florida.
Florida’s highest court has decided in favor of a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy who claimed use of the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law in the 2013 shooting death of an Oakland Park man.
In a unanimous ruling issued Thursday, the state Supreme Court said Deputy Peter Peraza was within his rights under the law when he opened fire on Jermaine McBean inside of an apartment complex. Pereza told investigators he thought the 33-year-old McBean was holding a real rifle, which was actually an air rifle, when the shooting occurred.
Hearings in the case took place in August and Thursday’s ruling opened the door for any officer in the state to use the law.
Peraza was the first officer in three decades to be charged with an on-duty shooting in Florida. He won the case in a lower court, saw it overturned by an appeals court before the Fourth District Court of Appeals reinstated the first decision.
"That sets a precedent definitely for the state of Florida of when 'stand your ground' can be used," Jermaine's brother Andrew McBean said in August. "If you open the door to 'stand your ground,' every little shooting can easily be called 'stand your ground.'"
"He had no right - because he was in uniform - to use the 'stand your ground' law," Jermaine's mother, Jennifer Young, told NBC 6.
Peraza told detectives he was concerned with what he saw because it was daytime when children and families were walking around the community at the time.
Prosecutors argue law enforcement officers should use a special law for them and not the "stand your ground" immunity for everyone else, while attorney Eric Schwartzreich used "stand your ground" to get the charges against Peraza dismissed twice.
The Broward State Attorney's Office issued a statement detailing their opposition to both the decision and the Stand Your Ground law.
"A grand jury heard the evidence, found that it was not a justified shooting, and chose to indict Deputy Peraza on a manslaughter charge," the statement read in part. "Stand Your Ground is a bad law and it doesn’t allow a trial jury to hear the evidence and make a decision."