An off-duty New York City corrections officer has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of an 18-year-old in the Bronx, authorities said.
The NYPD said in a statement that just after 1:30 a.m. Thursday, police responded to a report of a shooting and found an 18-year-old unconscious with a gunshot wound to the face. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died, police said.
Police identified him as Raymond Chalusant.
Dion Middleton, a 45-year-old corrections officer, has been charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon in Chalusant’s slaying, the NYPD said.
Police said Middleton was off-duty at the time of the shooting.
“These very serious allegations are in no way a reflection of the officers who work every day to keep our city safe,” Luis Molina, commissioner of the New York Department of Corrections, said in a statement to CBS New York on Friday. “This officer will be suspended without pay immediately, and if the allegations are true, he will face the full consequences of the law and be fired.”
Police said a toy gun that shoots water-filled gel balls was found near the scene of the shooting. It was not clear whether Chaluisant fired the toy, which is said to be a gel or a bead.
Benny Boscia, president of the Correctional Officers Benevolent Association, the union that represents Middleton, said in a statement that Middleton fired once after he felt something hit him in the back. He said the officer “felt his life was in immediate danger.”
Boshio said toy guns, which 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 Friday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. His bail was set at $1 million. Middleton is accused of shooting at the car Chalusant was in, James said, adding that he allegedly left the scene of the shooting and went to work later that morning, where he was taken into custody by the NYPD.
“My office is committed to thoroughly and transparently investigating every case where an officer of the law may have caused a death,” James said. “My deepest condolences to Mr. Chalusant’s family, and the people of New York promise that we will work to see that justice is served.”
On Thursday afternoon, the New York City Police Department issued a warning about the use of bead blasters, calling them the equivalent of an “air rifle.”
“Bead Blasters fire gel water beads that are propelled by a spring-loaded air pump, making them an air rifle,” the NYPD wrote. “Air rifles are a violation in New York and are illegal to possess.”