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BSO Deputy Peter Peraza testifies Jermaine McBean's earbuds not visible

Prosecutors claim earbuds prevented McBean from hearing deputy's commands

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A pair of earbuds remain at the center of the controversy involving a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy after he fatally shot a man carrying an air rifle.

That deputy, Peter Peraza, 37, has since been charged with manslaughter.

During a grand jury proceeding in December, Peraza told prosecutors that he didn't see anything in Jermaine McBean's ears that July 2013 night. Peraza said he only learned about the earbuds "when it was in the newspaper" last year.

A federal lawsuit filed against Broward County, Sheriff Scott Israel and Peraza claims that McBean, 33, could not hear deputies' commands to drop the gun because he was listening to music with earbuds.

McBean family's attorney, David Schoen, claimed the BSO told the family they found the earbuds in McBean's pocket.

In his testimony, Peraza said he hadn't heard other deputies talk about earbuds and didn't discuss them with anyone after he read the news reports.

Peraza's defense has argued that McBean ignored the deputy's command to drop the weapon, and Peraza claimed McBean pointed the gun at him and two other deputies -- leaving him no choice but to fire.

Throughout the hour-long interview, Peraza told prosecutors details on what happened that July night; however, more than 20 pages of the 56-page transcript were retracted.

Peraza said he'd been given training on how to use his firearm and when to give verbal commands. He was also instructed to use deadly force when "our life was in imminent danger."

"We're always taught, you know, give them verbal commands, let them know we're Broward Sheriff’s Office, we're deputies, drop the weapon, get down on the ground, depending on the situation," he said.

When asked if he has been given any training on what to do if a person was hearing impaired, 
Peraza answered, "No." 

In his account of that night, Peraza said he saw McBean in the 5200 block of North Dixie Highway carrying the rifle that he had purchased from a pawn shop that same day.

"As soon as he passed the vehicle, he seemed to have picked up his pace, started walking a little fast and then threw the weapon across this shoulders," Peraza said, adding that McBean was "just holding the weapon with both hands behind his neck on his shoulders."

When asked if he thought if McBean may have been a resident walking home, Peraza said, "At this point, no."

Peraza, who plead not guilty last month, faces up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted of manslaughter with a firearm. He was  suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.