Police reports made the killing of Jermaine McBean on Dixie Highway in Oakland Park, Florida, clean as a whistle. Carrying a rifle as he walked down the street, a call to 911 brought police to the scene. Broward County Deputy Peter Peraza arrived and says he told McBean to drop the gun. Peraza says McBean turned and pointed the rifle at him, so he killed him. A righteous shoot.
Except for the damn photograph.
After Florida police shot Jermaine McBean to death as he walked home with an unloaded air rifle, they said there was no reason to believe he did not hear their orders to drop the weapon and that he pointed it at them.
But a newly emerged photo that shows headphones in McBean’s ears immediately after the 2013 shooting raises questions about the police version of events, including why the white earbuds were later found stuffed in the dead computer expert’s pocket.
That the deputy might not have noticed the earbuds in McBean’s ears is one thing. That he lied about them, concealed them, is another. While McBean’s family told police that he always wore the earbuds when he was walking, that doesn’t prove that he was wearing them at the time Peraza ordered him to drop the gun. But this does:
And that wasn’t the only issue with Peraza’s claims.
And another aspect of the police account is also being contradicted — by a man who called 911 in alarm when he saw McBean walking around with the air rifle but who also says McBean never pointed it at police or anyone else.
Michael Russell McCarthy, 58, told NBC News that McBean had the Winchester Model 1000 Air Rifle balanced on his shoulders behind his neck, with his hand over both ends, and was turning around to face police when one officer began shooting.
“He [McBean] couldn’t have fired that gun from the position he was in. There was no possible way of firing it and at the same time hitting something,” McCarthy said.
No doubt there is spin to justify how he could have swung the gun around the back of his neck and, as in some cool action movie, pointed and shot at the deputy. A long shot, perhaps, but conceptually possible.
But that wasn’t the deputy’s claim. Going back to 2013, before Broward County Sheriff’s office knew anyone would challenge Peraza’s story:
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said in a press release that McBean was ordered “several times to stop and drop” his gun, and “he began to turn and point it in the direction of the deputy,” Peraza, who fired his handgun.
“Whew,” went all the people who read the Sun Sentinel that day. Nothing more to see here. Just a guy with a gun who was unfortunately killed, but it was all his fault. The deputy did what he had to do, as no one expects him to let a guy point what “resembled a high-powered hunting rifle” at him.
Jermaine McBean was a 33-year-old computer systems engineer, not the sort of guy who would be inclined to beg for a bullet by pointing his gun at a cop.
McBean was from Stamford, Conn., and attended Pace University in New York, where his brother said he earned a master’s degree in computer science.
McBean rode a motorcycle, was “very smart” and was “an awesome uncle” who spoiled his four nieces and nephews and took them on deep sea fishing trips in Florida, Alfred McBean said. “He was definitely a well-loved member of the family.”
And he liked to listen to music with his earbuds, which was likely the last thing he heard before the sound of a gun firing a bullet that would kill him.