Off-Duty Police Officer Charged After Shooting Dead Teen Holding Water Pellet Gun
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Featured Image Credit: Police Handout/CBS
An off-duty corrections officer in the US has been charged with the murder of a teenager who had allegedly been playing with a ‘bead blaster’ water gel pellet gun.
Raymond Chalusiant, 18, had allegedly been shooting off gel pellets out of an Orbeez gun in the Bronx when he was shot and killed at around 1.20am on Thursday 21 July. After suffering a gunshot wound to the face, police said Chalusiant was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Don Middleton, 45, was charged with second-degree murder, as well as first - and second - degree manslaughter, a spokesperson for the New York State Attorney General's office said.
Middleton, who did not enter a plea, was expected to be released yesterday, Friday 22 July, after posting a $1 million bond.
In a statement, Correction Officer's Union president Benny Boscio Jr. Said: "Our officer fired a single shot in a situation where he felt his life was in immediate danger, particularly after feeling something hit his back.
"We are also aware that a NYPD Traffic Agent had also reported being hit with pellets in the same vicinity an hour beforehand. Toy guns no longer resemble toys, as the images of this water pistol demonstrate and they remain an ongoing threat to public safety."
Middleton was allegedly struck in the back by the pellets, and not knowing what had hit him, he returned fire.
His attorney, Joey Jackson, told CNN that Middleton was walking when he felt something hit his back, also hearing objects pelting all around him.
Believing he was being struck by bullet fragments and that there were multiple shots, he then pulled his gun and fired a single shot.
"You're walking, it's 1:30 at night, you get something hit in the back, there's mayhem all over because apparently the person was firing shots everywhere, and it was just kind of mayhem from my client's perspective," Jackson said.
"He turns around, he sees the guy [Middleton] they engage and, boom, he fires a round, which happened to hit him."
Chaluisant’s half-sister Jiraida Esquilin that the family now was ‘justice’ for the teenager.
She told The New York Post: “It feels insane. [Correction officers are] supposed to be our safety. We go to these men for safety. Understand?”
Bead Blasters shoot gel water beads propelled by a spring-loaded air pump, making them an air rifle. Air rifles are a violation in NYC & are unlawful to possess.— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) July 21, 2022
Violators found in possession of these will be issued a criminal summons & the weapon will be confiscated. pic.twitter.com/otLkGAHFu4
Esquilin said they had just lost their father six months ago, and that they were ‘still grieving’ when they got the call about Chaluisant – who had recently stopped going to school as his ‘head wasn’t there’ for education after losing his dad and took time off to care for his mother and younger sister.
She added: “We want justice. He was only 18 years old.”
Esquilin said the shooting was a ‘really big burden’ to take and that her half-brother ‘did not deserve this’.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677