US: Off-duty NYC correction officer charged in fatal shooting

A toy gun that shoots water-filled gel beads, was found near the scene



Published: Sat 23 Jul 2022, 11:45 AM

Dion Middleton, 45, a New York City correction officer was charged with murder on Friday for the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old man, Raymond Chaluisant, in the Bronx the previous day— an episode that may have involved a toy gun.

According to a statement from the New York Police Department, Chaluisant was shot in the face, at around 1.30am on Thursday. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Middleton was arrested hours later after he reported to work, according to the State Attorney General’s office, which is prosecuting the case since Middleton is a law enforcement officer.

A toy gun, called a gel/bead blaster, that shoots water-filled gel beads, was found near the shooting scene. It was not clear whether Chaluisant had fired the toy. The Attorney General’s office said on Friday that Middleton had shot at a car, in which Chaluisant had been a passenger. The police department later tweeted that bead blasters, considered a type of air rifle, are illegal in New York City.

Benny Boscio, president the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, the union that represents Middleton, said in a statement that Middleton fired a single shot after feeling something hit him in the back. He said the officer “felt his life was in immediate danger”.

Boscio also said that toy guns that don’t look like toys “remain an ongoing threat to public safety”. He added:

“We will provide Officer Middleton with the best possible representation to ensure that his legal rights are protected.”

Middleton was arraigned before Judge Jeffrey Zimmerman on Friday, on charges of first-degree murder, as well as first- and second-degree manslaughter. The bail was set at $1 million.

Louis Molina, the city correction commissioner, said in a statement that Middleton would be suspended without pay, “and if the charges are true, he will face the full consequences of the law and be terminated”.

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