South Florida police claim that they shot and killed Jermaine McBean two years ago at his apartment complex in Orland Park because he ignored their orders to halt and drop his weapon.
Turns out, McBean probably couldn’t hear them, writes NBC News. Not only that, the weapon was an unloaded air rifle.
Now, a newly emerged photo raises questions about police version of events. The image shows headphones in McBean’s ears immediately after the 2013 shooting, sparking questions about the police officers’ stories, including why the white earbuds were later found stuffed in the dead computer expert’s pocket, writes the television news outlet.
Reports NBC News:
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,” McCarthy told NBC. “There was no possible way of firing it and at the same time hitting something. I kind of blame myself, because if I hadn’t called it might not have happened.”
The New York Times reports:
A federal wrongful death lawsuit filed May 11 accused the Broward Sheriff’s Office of tampering with evidence and obstructing justice. The suit alleges that the deputy who shot Mr. McBean perjured himself and that the department covered it up by giving him a bravery award shortly after the killing, while the shooting was still under investigation.
From Ferguson, Mo., to Baltimore to Cleveland, the nation seems awash in disputed, high-profile cases of police violence. But a look at disputed cases in Florida is a reminder of how frequently they arise far from the limelight and how many questions surround the way they are investigated. The issue is particularly acute in Florida, where State Department of Law Enforcement statistics show the number of fatal police shootings has tripled in the past 15 years, even as crime has plummeted. In South Florida’s Broward County, no officer has been charged in a fatal on-duty police shooting since 1980, a period that covers 168 shooting deaths.
The shooting is still the subject of an “active investigation” by prosecutors, and we hope the family receives the justice they seek.