FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — Dozens of fellow deputies showed up to a hearing to support a Broward Sheriff’s deputy charged with manslaughter.
As Deputy Peter Peraza headed into court for the Monday morning hearing, dozens of law enforcement officials stood outside, clapping for him.
Earlier this month, a grand jury indicted Peraza for the 2013 killing of Jermaine McBean who was holding an unloaded pellet gun at the time of his death.
Deputy Peraza shot McBean as he carried an unloaded air rifle in his Oakland Park neighborhood, heading home from the pawn shop where he bought it. The deputies said Peraza shot him when he ignored their commands to drop the gun. And at the scene, back in 2013, Sheriff Scott Israel said he pointed it at them.
“What we have here is man who was walking down our streets with a rifle who later pointed it at a deputy. My client was doing his job, nothing more, nothing less, ” said Peraza’s attorney Eric Schwartzreich.
Civilian witnesses have said McBean did not point the gun at anyone and couldn’t hear the deputies orders because he was listening to music.
“There were witnesses at the scene that said that he never pointed an air rifle at them. There’s witnesses at the scene that said they saw the headphones in his ear. There are witnesses at the scene that took pictures of him with the headphones in his ear,” said Jasmen Rogers with Black Lives Matter.
Peraza’s attorney said he’s been caught up in a nationwide furor over black people being shot by police.
“The problem is you don’t walk down our streets with a rifle and you don’t point it at a law enforcement officer. This was not the test case to bring,” said Schwartzreich.
Civil rights activists point to testimony held by grand jurors.
“I think it’s time for justice to be done. I think it’s time for police brutality to be held accountable,” said Didler Ortiz with Dream Defenders.
Broward civil rights activists held protests over McBean’s death and consider the indictment of the deputy a victory since it’s the first such indictment of a Florida law enforcement officer in 26 years.
Meanwhile as the case moves forward, deputy supporters say he is suffering.
“I just can’t believe that the same agency that cleared him from the homicide now suspends him without pay ,” said Jeff Marano with the Police Benevolent Association.
As for Monday’s hearing, the judge granted several routine motions to preserve evidence in the case against the cop.