Broward County Sheriff’s deputies and employees are the subjects of more than 66 investigations – ranging from drug trafficking and sexual battery to kidnapping – since 2012, according to a new report.
The Broward County State Attorney’s office produced a 2014 Brady list of 146 open investigations ranging from 2004 to 2014, with many cases taking place in 2012 and 2013. Broward County Sheriff Scot Israel won election to the position in 2012.
Investigative reporter Sara Carter noted that 40 of the investigations took place under Sheriff Israel, who is facing widespread condemnation after several of his deputies reportedly failed to enter Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 after gunman Nikolas Cruz went on a killing rampage.
Some of the charges against Broward County deputies and personnel outlined on the 22-page Brady list dating back to 2004 include:
- Sexual battery
- Vehicular homicide and reckless driving
- Perjury and falsifying records
- Grand theft
- Insurance fraud
- Attempted murder
- Discharging firearm from a vehicle
- Armed false imprisonment and armed sexual battery
- Possession of oxycodone
- Armed delivery of oxycodone and possession of hydrocodone
- Aggravated battery of a pregnant female
- Domestic violence battery
- Tampering with a witness
- Tampering with evidence
- Reviews wherein person(s) died as a result of police action
- Driving under the influence
- Conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and false statements
- Kidnapping, extortion, false imprisonment, official misconduct, grand theft
- Aggressive stalking
- Unlawful compensation
- Organized scheme to defraud and criminal use of personal identification
- Making material false statements to FBI agents
- Armed extortion, bribery, money laundering
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office hasn’t responded to WND’s multiple requests for comment since the Feb. 14 shooting, including a request concerning the investigations of misconduct. It’s unclear how many more misconduct investigations have been launched since the report was published in 2014.
10 internal affairs complaints against Israel – 5 files go missing
Israel himself has been the subject of at least 10 internal affairs complaints, mostly for excessive or unnecessary force, but he was cleared in every case, according to a 2009 report by Florida’s Sun-Sentinel. While Israel became sheriff in 2012, he began his career as a Fort Lauderdale patrol officer in 1979 and worked the narcotics scene in the 1980s and 1990s.
“[F]ive of those reports, which typically contain witness statements and details of the investigation, are gone from city files,” the newspaper reported in 2009. “That means details about two of the more serious accusations – false arrest and theft – are lost. Though both were ruled ‘not sustained,’ the city can’t find the full case documents.”
Israel told the newspaper he didn’t remember the files.
“I’ve never stolen anything in my life – well, I shouldn’t say that – since I was 7 years old and Dad explained to me in the woodshed,” he explained at the time.
While state and city law mandate that the records be kept for 50 years after the end of an officer’s employment, police spokesman Sgt. Frank Sousa told the Sun-Sentinel: “We feel it’s unfortunate these files are not there. However, it was done under a previous administration, and we cannot explain their actions.”
As for his history of internal affairs complaints, Israel said: “I was a very active and hard-working police officer. My assignments put me in touch with many, many violent people.”
Won’t say if deputies were given stand-down order at Florida school
Since the Florida school massacre on Feb. 14, Sheriff Israel has resisted demands that he resign.
When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Sheriff Israel if his deputies had been ordered to stand down at the school, Israel wouldn’t answer the question.
“This is an active shooter, we push to the entry, to the killer, we get in and we take out the threat,” Israel told CNN.
Tapper asked if the deputies had been given a stand-down order.
“I can’t tell you anything about that,” the sheriff said. “I haven’t heard that … right now, Jake, the focus of this agency is on a successful prosecution of the killer. We will get to the truth, but right now, people could have conjecture. People can act on rumors. And everyone has a right to their own opinion.”
As WND reported, Israel claimed he has offered “amazing leadership to this agency.”
On Sunday, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran called for Florida Gov. Rick Scott to suspend Sheriff Israel for “incompetence and dereliction of duty.” At least 73 other lawmakers support Corcoran’s request, which was detailed in a letter posted to Twitter.
The shooting of Jermaine McBean
Sara Carter highlighted one civil court case filed against Sheriff Israel by the family of Jermaine McBean, a black information technology engineer who was killed by Broward deputies in 2013.
At the time of the incident, McBean was reportedly walking home from the store after buying an air rifle. The bag covering his unloaded air rifle had blown away, and a passerby called 9-1-1, thinking McBean was toting a rifle. However, the caller reportedly told the 9-1-1 dispatcher that the weapon might have been an air rifle.
When McBean arrived at his apartment, he was approached by deputies Peter Peraza, Lt. Brad Ostroff and Sgt. Richard Laccera.
McBean family attorney David Schoen claims witnesses confirm the man’s air rifle was atop his shoulders, with his arms draped over it. McBean was wearing earbuds and couldn’t hear the officers commands. When he turned around, Peraza, who had only been a deputy for a year, reportedly fired his weapon and killed McBean. The deputy claimed he feared for his life.
In a photo after the shooting, McBean can be seen sprawled on the ground with earbuds still in his ears. According to NBC News, the earbuds were found stuffed in McBean’s pocket after his death.
“Approximately 66 BSO (Broward Sheriff’s Office) deputies and other employees, including supervisory personnel were arrested for, charged with, and/or convicted of crimes that run the gamut from Armed Kidnapping, to Battery, Assault, Falsifying records, Official Misconduct, Narcotics trafficking, and other crimes involving dishonesty and violence in the years immediately proceeding 2013 when Jermaine was killed. Most of the offenses on the list occurred in the years 2012-2013,” state court documents filed by Schoen against Israel and Broward County Sheriff deputy defendants.
“Often the cases against BSO (Broward Sheriff’s Office) employees are resolved by guilty pleas resulting in short or no period of incarceration and a chance for the criminal record to be cleared after a period of time.”
Carter reported Wednesday: “Three months after the shooting, Israel awarded two of the deputies the BSO’s prestigious ‘Gold Cross Award.’ But under mounting criticism he later told reporters the deputies should not have received the awards, adding that he didn’t award the deputies but couldn’t investigate the matter because someone accidentally destroyed the paperwork, as reported.”
Peraza was suspended and indicted for homicide two years after McBean was killed. He became the first officer charged in an on-duty shooting in the county since 1980. However, a local judge dismissed the case. The Florida Supreme Court vacated the lower court’s order. Now the Department of Justice is conducting an investigation into McBean’s death.
Schoen accused Sheriff Israel of never accepting responsibility in cases such as this, claiming the “buck never stops with him.”
Schoen told Carter that the McBean case is just one example of Israel’s failed leadership.
Israel is named in the lawsuit based on “supervisory liability, his policies, and for being directly a part of the cover-up through the award process and failure to discipline, thereby ratifying and encouraging in the future this kind of conduct and an environment that rewards it,” Schoen said.
Broward deputy and ‘Muslim mafia’
As WND reported, a leader of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in South Florida also serves as a deputy for the Broward County Sheriff’s office. Nezar Hamze is the regional operations director for the Florida chapter of CAIR, whose national office was named an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas-funding scheme and was designated a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.
How, then, asked anti-Shariah activist Joe Kaufman in a 2015 column for FrontPage Magazine, “is it possible that one of [CAIR’s] leaders, Nezar Hamze, could be considered for a position at one of the most prominent Sheriff’s offices in the United States?”
Hamze, who has conducted active-shooter training at a Florida mosque, was caught on video outside a fundraiser in 2010 for then-British MP George Galloway repeatedly refusing to denounce Hamas. CAIR’s parent organization was founded in 1993 in the United States by operatives of Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
See Hamze leading active-shooter training:
In June 2007, Hamze covered for his cousin, Abdelaziz Bilal Hamze, after the relative murdered a woman, running her over with a minivan and dragging her body for several miles down the road, scattering her body parts. The cousin then attempted to flee the U.S. to the family’s native Lebanon.