FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A $2.5 million settlement is helping to bring some closure to Jennifer Young nearly eight years after a deputy killed her 33-year-old son, Jermaine McBean, in Broward County.
McBean, who didn’t have a criminal record, had earned two degrees at Pace University, and he worked in information technology in Fort Lauderdale.
Attorney David Schoen, who represents McBean’s family, said on Wednesday that it was a tragedy and a groundbreaking case for Broward County.
“There can never be justice — this family losing a young man like this who really had a great deal to contribute to the world,” said Schoen, a civil rights lawyer.
Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Peter Peraza reported that he decided to shoot and kill McBean on July 31, 2013, after mistaking a pellet air rifle for a deadly weapon.
Young believes her son’s death in Oakland Park could have been prevented if the deputy would have had better judgment.
Young believes her son couldn’t hear deputies when they ordered him to drop the Winchester Model 1000 Air Rifle that he was carrying over his shoulders. He had just bought it at a pawn shop. It was unloaded and he was walking home.
Sgt. Richard LaCerra, who was at the scene, told investigators a wounded McBean said, “It was just a BB gun.”
McBean’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Schoen said the tone of the negotiations changed amid the Black Lives Matter movement’s calls for justice for McBean after George Floyd’s death. He believes the pressure may have helped to move the settlement along.
Before the settlement, Schoen said McBean’s family has gone from heartbreak to heartbreak for years. Months after the shooting former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel gave Peraza and LaCerra the Gold Cross for heroism. He issued the awards even as the investigation was ongoing.
In December 2015, McBean’s family got a glimpse of hope when a grand jury indicted Peraza for manslaughter — making him the first deputy in more than three decades to be charged over a police-involved shooting in Broward County.
McBean’s family lost hope when they learned Broward County Circuit Judge Michael Usan tossed out the criminal case in July 2016 in response to a “Stand Your Ground” defense to claim the use of deadly force was legal. The Florida Supreme Court upheld Usan’s ruling.
“They can deny liability all day, all day long, but this settlement speaks for itself,” Schoen said.
His family set up the Jermaine McBean Memorial Fund.