Broward Sheriff's Deputy Peter Peraza was facing up to 30 years in prison after being charged with manslaughter for the on-duty shooting of a young African-American man. The deceased man, who allegedly suffered from mental illness, had been walking down the street carrying an air rifle. A call was made to 911 regarding a man walking through a neighborhood openly carrying what the caller believed to be a firearm.
Deputy Peraza was one of the deputies who responded to the call. With his gun drawn, Peraza ordered the deceased to put down the weapon. The deceased turned toward the deputy still holding the air rifle with the barrel facing the deputy.
Believing that the air rifle was an actual firearm, Deputy Peraza fired his weapon and killed the young man.
While tragic, police officers are permitted the use of lawful self-defense when engaged in their duties. In this case, Deputy Peraza reasonably believed that the deceased was pointing a firearm at him. Relying upon his training, Deputy Peraza used lethal force.
Broward State Attorney Michael Satz sought a grand jury indictment against Peraza even after the Broward Sheriff's Office's Internal Affairs Bureau had cleared Peraza of the shooting, stating that the use of force was justified under the circumstances. A grand jury returned a true bill charging Peraza with one count of manslaughter with a firearm.
Peraza's attorney filed a motion to dismiss the indictment under Florida's Stand Your Ground Law, which permits citizens the use of lethal self-defense when facing an imminent threat of violence.
The judge heard testimony and reviewed the evidence and concluded that the immunity granted under Stand Your Ground applied in Peraza's case.
The judge order the case dismissed. Prosecutors will appeal the judge's decision.