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Activists: Charge Cops in Shooting Death of Jermaine McBean

by Tracy Connor /  / Updated 

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Activists from the Black Lives Matter movement are calling on Florida authorities to charge three officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man walking home with an unloaded air rifle he'd just purchased.

As NBC News reported in May, questions about the shooting were raised by a photograph that showed the man, Jermaine McBean, lying dead on the ground with white earbuds — contradicting police who said he did not have anything in his ears when they shouted at him to drop the rifle.

In addition, a witness to the 2013 shooting, tracked down by a lawyer for McBean's family, told NBC News the computer engineer never took the air rifle off his shoulders and pointed it at police, though two officers claimed in videotaped statements that he did.

READ: NBC News' original report on the Jermaine McBean case

Three people called 911 in alarm after seeing McBean walking down the street in Oakland Park with the rifle, which he had just bought at a pawn shop.

Two of the Broward County Sheriff's officers, including the deputy who fired the fatal shots, were given bravery awards for it.

"We want charges against all three of them," said Jesse Cosme, a spokesman for Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward, which plans to hold a press conference Thursday outside the Broward State Attorney's office.

"We want the awards rescinded and we want all three off the streets immediately."

Jermaine McBean shortly after he was fatally shot by police in Oakland Park, Fla., on July 31, 2013, while carrying an unloaded air rifle. Police say he ignored their orders to drop the weapon and was not wearing headphones; his family’s lawyer says this picture, taken by a witness, shows that was false.
Jermaine McBean shortly after he was fatally shot by police in Oakland Park, Fla., on July 31, 2013, while carrying an unloaded air rifle. Police say he ignored their orders to drop the weapon and was not wearing headphones; his family’s lawyer says this picture, taken by a witness, shows that was false.Courtesy David Schoen

A spokesman for state attorney Michael Satz did not respond to a request for comment. In May, a spokesman for the office said that the investigation was ongoing and the results would be presented to a grand jury.

The head of the Broward police union, Jeff Marano, said that "unless there is any new evidence" he does not think any action should be taken against the officers. "I don't see where the headphones come into play one way or the other," he said.

In July, the FBI disclosed in a court document that it was reviewing the case for possible civil rights violations. McBean's family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit. In its response, the sheriff's office said blame for the incident lies with McBean.

WATCH: Ronan Farrow's report on the death of Jermaine McBean

"Any measure of force utilized against Jermaine McBean was reasonable, justified and/or necessary under the circumstances," the sheriff's legal papers say. "Defendants allege and assert that it was...Jermaine McBean's conduct that is the sole cause of his alleged injuries and damages, if any."

The Broward Sheriff, Scott Israel, has said that his investigators never saw the photo of McBean wearing the earbuds — which a detective later said were found in the dead man's pocket.

Gold Cross Award winners, from left,  Sgt. Richard LaCerra  and Deputy Peter Peraza stand with Sheriff Scott Israel during the Broward Sheriff’s Office Awards Ceremony at the African-American Research Library in Fort Lauderdale in 2013.
Gold Cross Award winners, from left, Sgt. Richard LaCerra and Deputy Peter Peraza stand with Sheriff Scott Israel during the Broward Sheriff’s Office Awards Ceremony at the African-American Research Library in Fort Lauderdale in 2013.Amy Beth Bennett / Sun Sentinel

"There was no cover-up," Israel said in a statement this summer. There was no immediate response to a request for comment Monday on the activists' demands.

Cosme said his group's concerns go beyond the McBean case and to Broward County's general handling of police-involved shootings. The last time a Broward officer was found at fault in a shooting was 1980, according to a report in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, which said it can take years for a case to be given to the grand jury.

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