Manslaughter charge tossed for Florida sheriff's deputy in shooting death

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Deputy's Manslaughter Charge Dismissed By Judge In Florida

TAMPA, Fla., July 27 (Reuters) - A manslaughter charge against a sheriff's deputy who shot and killed a black man carrying an air rifle was dismissed on Wednesday after the deputy argued that he acted in self-defense.

SEE ALSO: Black Lives Matter activists attempt to segregate crowd

Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Peter Peraza, who is Hispanic, sought protection under the state's "stand your ground" law, said his attorney Eric Schwartzreich, who believes it is the first such case involving an on-duty officer shooting.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Usan agreed with the officer's claim that he was protecting himself when he killed Jermaine McBean, 33, at a south Florida apartment complex in July 2013.

Usan acknowledged in his ruling the national debate over the use of excessive force by police, especially against minorities.

"This case involves the tragic death of one man and the liberty of another," Usan wrote, adding that the political debate did not belong in the courtroom.

State prosecutors said in a statement they would appeal the decision, arguing that the officer was not entitled to have the charge dismissed under the "stand your ground" law.

"We believe that the facts of the case do not support that this was a justifiable shooting," the Broward State Attorney's office said in a statement, declining additional comment.

Attorney David Schoen, who represents McBean's mother and other family members, said, "It's a slap in the face to every African American citizen of the country and all citizens." He said the family was devastated by the ruling.

The decision came the same day Baltimore prosecutors dropped all remaining charges against police officers in connection with the death of black detainee Freddie Gray.

The Florida shooting occurred after McBean bought an air rifle at a pawn shop. He was carrying it openly while walking home, prompting 911 emergency calls.

SEE ALSO: Newspapers in hot water over Clinton nomination covers

McBean did not comply with orders from officers to drop the weapon, according to the ruling.

A photograph later showed that he was wearing earbuds, Schoen said, adding that McBean's family believes he would not have heard the commands. The judge noted the officers said they did not see earbuds.

Peraza testified that he feared for his safety.

"Under the situation, he was defending himself," Schwartzreich said in a telephone interview, calling the death tragic. "There is no winner here."

Peraza is now suspended with pay, the Broward Sheriff's Office said. His suspension previously was unpaid.

"A life was lost, and this is a tragedy no matter how you look at it," Sheriff Scott Israel said in a statement.

RELATED: Controversial death penalty cases:

12 PHOTOS
Controversial Death Penalty Cases
See Gallery
Controversial Death Penalty Cases
Dave Atwood, left, and Sophia Malik, right, both of Houston, hold photos of Napoleon Beazley as they protest his execution Tuesday, May 28, 2002, in Huntsville, Texas. Beazley, 25, was executed by lethal injection for the 1994 carjacking murder of 63-year-old John E. Luttig of Tyler, Texas. It was the 14th execution this year in Texas. (AP Photo/Brett Coomer)
Rena, left, and Ireland Beazley hold a photo of their son Napoleon Beazley at their home in Grapeland, Texas, Friday, May 31, 2002. Napoleon Beazley's death sentence for killing the father of a federal judge during a 1994 carjacking at age 17 stirred national debate over capital punishment for youths. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)
Rena Beazley, left, and her husband, Ireland, from Grapeland, Texas, are shown in the audience during a news conference Thursday, May 23, 2002, in Austin, Texas. The two, parents of Texas death row inmate Napoleon Beazley, and clergy pleaded for his sentence to be commuted to life in prison. He is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Tuesday. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)

Mugshot of Cameron Todd Willingham

(Photo credit: Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

Judy Cavnar, of Ardmore, Okla., a cousin of executed Texas prison inmate Cameron Todd Willingham, displays a picture of him during a news conference Tuesday, May 2, 2006, in Austin, Texas. The case of a Willingham, who maintained his innocence until the end but was executed after he was convicted of an arson murder, is going before a new state commission required to look into allegations of forensic misconduct. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
Eugenia Willingham of Ardmore, Okla., right, wipes a tear as she speaks during a news conference Tuesday, May 2, 2006, in Austin, Texas. Willingham and other relatives of Cameron Todd Willingham recounted the final moments of Willingham's life and their unsuccessful attempts to block his execution. The New York-based Innocence Project submitted the case to the Texas Forensic Science Commission on Tuesday and also asked the panel to review arson convictions statewide. In the background, from left are Willingham's cousins, Pat Cox, and Judy Cavnar. Mrs. Willingham is his stepmother. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
Death row inmate Troy Davis appears in this undated file photo provided by the Georgia Department of Corrections. (Georgia Department of Corrections/MCT via Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather in front of the White House in Washington as they hold a vigil before the scheduled execution of death row inmate Troy Davis, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. Davis is facing lethal injection for killing an off-duty Georgia policeman in Savannah, a crime he and others have insisted for years that he did not commit. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
A man chants during a vigil for Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis In Jackson, Ga., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. Davis is scheduled to die Wednesday for the killing off-duty Savannah officer Mark MacPhail. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Anne MacPhail pauses for a moment after learning at 10:55 p.m., on September 21, 2011, that the U.S. Supreme Court had denied a stay of execution for Troy Davis, who was convicted in the 1989 murder of her son Mark MacPhail. Davis was executed shortly after in Jackson, Georgia. (Robin Trimarchi/Columbus Ledger-Enquirer/MCT via Getty Images)

Mugshot of Kelly Renee Gissendaner

(Photo credit: Georgia Department of Corrections)

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners