Broward Sheriff’s Office Dep. Peter Peraza killed Jermaine McBean. This fact is not in dispute. McBean, 33, was shot dead while carrying an unloaded air rifle through an Oakland Park apartment complex. Court records indicate that McBean, who was black, also suffered from mental illness, and a photograph showed that he likely had earbuds in his ears when he was killed, suggesting he was unable to hear the police when they arrived. Peraza now faces manslaughter charges.
In what is clearly a tone-deaf show of support, Broward’s former police union, the Police Benevolent Association, has rallied around Peraza, raising money for the officer’s family by hosting all-you-can-drink “pub crawls.”
In January, the Broward Police Benevolent Association, run by longtime union boss Jeff Marano, hosted a pub crawl to benefit the Peraza family. (BSO recently voted to drop the PBA in favor of the International Union of Police Associations, but the PBA is still representing Peraza because the incident occurred before the unions switched hands.) According to a flier the PBA sent out in January, deputies could buy $20 wristbands and then saunter from Hollywood’s Whiskey Tango bar to the Greek Joint to Mickey Byrne’s Irish Pub. The proceeds were placed in the PBA’s HOPE Fund, which provides financial support to families of officers who have suffered a “catastrophic incident.” Another crawl is planned.
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When David Schoen, the McBean family’s lawyer, learned of the crawls, he seemed flabbergasted. “It’s not just callous,” Shoen said. “It’s barbaric.” He demanded that Broward Sheriff Scott Israel make a statement against them.
Whether McBean’s killing was lawful or not, one would hope that law enforcement officers — men and women who take pride in calling themselves heroes — would show decency toward the family of an unarmed man who’d been shot to death. But at Peraza’s court hearings, off-duty police officers have shown up in “All Lives Matter” T-shirts. They’ve hurled insults at the McBean family, calling Schoen an “ambulance chaser.” (They also shouted insults at me for even trying to report on the case.)
Reached by phone, union boss Marano said the amount of money the first pub crawl raised was “confidential” but confirmed that another pub crawl was in the works “later this month, in June.” Asked if he thought the idea of using pub crawls to raise money for the family of a man who killed an unarmed person was “callous,” Marano disagreed.
“It’s a fundraiser,” he said. “Whether it’s a pub crawl or bingo night, we don’t have any problem with it.”