On July 13, 2013, 33-year-old Jermaine McBean had just purchased a BB gun from a Florida store and was headed home when police spotted him. Police say McBean ignored their orders to drop the weapon, so they fired shots, killing the information-technology specialist.
A nurse on the scene that day says that police stopped her from administering aid to McBean. She also says that she told police she noticed something that may have explained why he didn’t drop the gun: earbuds.
The nurse, who is not named in the NBC News report about the questions surrounding McBean’s death, took out her cellphone and took a photo of McBean’s body as it lay on the ground. The photo appears to show earbuds still in McBean’s ears.
The issue: The officer involved in the shooting has testified that the earbuds weren’t in McBean’s ears at the time of the shooting, and records viewed by NBC indicate that the earbuds were found in McBean’s pockets, not in his ears.
“I was highly upset,” McBean’s mother, Jennifer Young, told the news station when she learned of the photo. “They lied to me. What else have they lied about?”
An internal investigation conducted by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office concluded that McBean was not wearing his earbuds at the time of the shooting, and McBean’s family was told that his earbuds were found in his pocket at the hospital.
Broward County Deputy Peter Peraza, the officer who shot and killed McBean, stated during a videotaped interview that McBean “pulled the weapon up over his head and grabbed it and started to turn and point it at us. I felt like my life was threatened. I had that feeling like if I would not go home that day.”
McBean’s family attorney says the photo proves that police lied. The family has filed a lawsuit alleging that McBean couldn’t have heard the officer’s commands because of the earbuds, and that McBean never held the BB gun in a threatening manner, a belief that is also held by Michael McCarthy, one of three people who called to report that McBean was carrying a gun in the neighborhood. According to McCarthy, McBean was carrying the air rifle across the backs of his shoulders and was resting his arms against it.
“He 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, 58, told NBC. “I kind of blame myself, because if I hadn’t called, it might not have happened.”
According to the news station, McBean had been diagnosed with biploar disorder in 2010 and had recently switched medication. He had taken a week off from work and purchased the gun at a local pawnshop. No charges have been filed against the officer involved in the shooting.
Read more at NBC News.