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Prosecutor berates BSO during hearing for Peter Peraza

Assistant state attorney says BSO acting as 'investigative body' for deputy

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A prosecutor was openly critical of the Broward Sheriff's Office during a hearing for a suspended deputy charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a man carrying an unloaded air rifle.

Peter Peraza was indicted in the July 2013 shooting death of Jermaine McBean, 33, at an Oakland Park apartment complex.

Peraza was one of several deputies called to reports of a man carrying a rifle, but it was later determined to be an unloaded pellet gun. McBean didn't obey commands to drop the weapon, but family members claim he was wearing earbuds and couldn't hear deputies.

"Our client was doing nothing but defending himself that day -- defending himself and defending the children at the swimming pool," defense attorney Eric Schwartreich told Local 10 News.

Attorneys are waiting for a judge to obtain and review medical records for McBean, whom family members claim suffered from mental illness. They want his records to remain private.

During Thursday's hearing, assistant state attorney Tim Donnelly criticized the BSO for seemingly siding with Peraza. Donnelly called the BSO "an investigative body for the defendant right now instead of being an independent agency."

"Two weeks ago they went out and tried to do a re-enactment crime scene photo, and they got everybody in the wrong place," Donnelly told the judge.

Peraza's attorney said his client shouldn't have been charged.

"He had no duty to retreat," Schwartzreich said. "He's a law enforcement officer, and he was just doing his job."

A "stand your ground" hearing was also set for June 13.

About the Authors:

Peter Burke returned for a second stint of duty at Local 10 News in February 2014.

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.