In December of 2015, I reported that Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Peter Peraza was indicted by a grand jury for manslaughter in an officer-involved shooting. He was the first Florida law enforcement officer charged for an OIS in 25 years. Today, Broward Circuit Judge Michael Usan ruled in favor of Dep. Peraza’s Stand Your Ground motion and dismissed the charge.
In July of 2013, Dep. Peraza responded with other deputies to three 911 reports of an armed suspect walking in an apartment complex. The suspect refused to drop his rifle and did not comply with the deputies’ commands. Deputies and a witness stated that the suspect pointed his rifle toward them. The man was shot and killed by Peraza, who fired three bullets.
The suspect’s weapon turned out to be an air rifle he had just purchased. He had a history of mental illness. Ear buds in the suspect’s ears may have prevented him from hearing the deputies’ commands. There were conflicting witness statements. The judge took these things into consideration in articulating his decision. Ultimately, he found Peraza’a actions justified.
“This is a dangerous climate for law enforcement these days,” Peraza’s lawyer said. “This isn’t a situation of an unarmed African-American male. This was an armed male walking down the street with what was perceived to be a real rifle in an area where there were civilians.”
Dep. Peraza’s troubles are not yet over. He still faces an appeal in which the prosecutors will contend that a police officer cannot invoke a Stand Your Ground defense. Peraza is also named in a federal lawsuit by the deceased man’s family. Ironically, Dep. Peraza was awarded a combat cross for bravery by Broward Sheriff Scott Israel only three months after the incident…