Still No Indictment for BSO Officers Who Shot Man Carrying Air Gun and Wearing Headphones

It's been two years since three Broward Sheriff's Officers shot Jermaine McBean, a 33-year-old African-American computer engineer who was walking home with an air gun balanced on his shoulders. The officers maintained that they ordered McBean to turn around and that he then pointed the air gun at them. Those claims were called into question several months ago when a photo, taken by a resident in the apartment complex, surfaced showing that McBean had been wearing headphones when he was shot. It's unclear how the earbuds ended up in McBean's pocket at the hospital hours later.

It was a shocking find, since the Broward Sheriff's deputy who fired the fatal shots, Peter Peraza, told investigators that McBean had not been wearing headphones. So did BSO Sgt. Richard LaCerra. Despite the contradictory testimony and whispers of a coverup, both Peraza and LaCerra remain on active duty and have even received awards for heroism.

McBean's family has been patient, hoping the officers would be indicted. Now that it looks like State Attorney Michael Satz will be sending the case to a grand jury, McBean's family and Black Lives Matter activists are calling for justice.

“Two years later, two years of dragging feet by BSO, by prosecution, by the State Attorney's Office. We're all tired and fed up. It's a travesty,” Jesse Cosme, a Black Lives Matter activist, tells New Times. “The family is devastated.”

The family's attorney, David Schoen, points out that McBean's death will mark the 169th time that Satz did not charge an officer in a fatal shooting with a crime since 1980. “The history of civilian deaths at the hand of law enforcement officers in Broward County without a single indictment or even disciplinary action in over 30 years is tremendously alarming and demands independent oversight,” Schoen said.

The family wanted Satz and Broward Sheriff Scott Israel to charge the officers with McBean's death and tampering with evidence. Instead, it looks like the case will be tried by a grand jury. “We're worried, the family's worried that there won't be an indictment,” Cosme says. “In the 168 cases tried at a grand jury before, there hasn't been a single indictment. We don't want to get the same result.”

The family is holding a news conference outside the Broward County Courthouse on Thursday, October 22. McBean's mother and brothers will be there, along with their attorney and Black Lives Matter activists.

“The tragic cold-blooded homicide by a Broward County deputy, of Jermaine McBean, a talented young engineer, so beloved by all who knew him, and the outrageous concerted effort through the highest ranks of the department to cover up the true facts actually reward the shooter should compel every citizen of Broward County and, indeed, the nation, to demand justice,” Schoen said in a statement. 
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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson