FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Broward Sheriff's Office deputy charged with manslaughter after fatally shooting a man who was carrying an unloaded air rifle had a legal setback Thursday.
Deputy Peter Peraza sat quietly in court surrounded by his colleagues, who attended the hearing in a show of support.
A judge sided with the state on Thursday, ruling that Peraza's defense team can't question a member of the grand jury.
But Peraza's attorney said what he really wants to know is if the grand juror helped decide to indict Peraza for manslaughter in the fatal 2013 shooting of Jermaine McBean.
"Was a grand juror left on here whose daughter was arrested by a BSO deputy for DUI and then asked to determine the fate of my client, who is a BSO deputy?" defense attorney Eric Schwartzreich asked.
Schwartzreich argued that the incident could create bias, but the judge disagreed.
"This case is not likely to rise and fall on procedural difficulties in the grand jury," Judge Michael Usan said.
Prosecutors said Peraza shot McBean at an Oakland Park apartment complex in July 2013 after deputies were called to reports of a man carrying a gun.
McBean, a software engineer, didn't reply to orders to drop the weapon, which turned out to be an unloaded pellet gun.
Family members said he was wearing earbuds and never heard the commands.
Peraza, a father of four, is now suspended without pay.