Image source: David Dee Delgado/POOL
The increasing number of gun violence in 2022 has raised significant concerns among citizens, and New York once again witnessed another murder – this time in the hands of an officer.
Last week, an 18-year-old man was shot by a New York City correction officer.
The cause of the shooting? A toy gun.
Police reports say that Raymond Chaluisant, 18, was shooting a toy water gun inside a car.
Off-duty officer Dion Middleton, 45, shot at Chaluisant with his own weapon. Sources say Middleton fired more than once.
Cops say that it was unclear who Chaluisant had been aiming at.
He was shot in the face as he sat on the passenger side of an Acura around 1:30 am.
After the shooting
Raymond Chaluisant was taken to the hospital and later pronounced dead.
Meanwhile, according to the state attorney general’s office, Middleton reported to work hours later and was arrested.
The state attorney general’s office is prosecuting the case due to Middleton’s employment as a law officer.
Police found a shell casing at the scene but determined Chaluisant was shot nearly half a mile away at Morris Avenue and the Cross Bronx Expressway.
The “deadly” weapon
The police recovered a toy gun that shoots water-filled gel beads near the shooting scene.
Police sources said that Chaluisant fired an “Orbeez” gun, which resembles a pistol and shoots gel water beads from a spring-loaded air pump.
On Friday, the police department tweeted that bead blasters are now considered a type of air rifle and illegal in New York City.
“Bead blasters shoot gel water bears propelled by a spring-loaded air pump, making them an air rifle. Air rifles are a violation in NYC and are unlawful to possess,” tweeted NYPD News.
“Violators found in possession of these will be issued a criminal summon & the weapon will be confiscated.”
Middleton works in training at the NYPD shooting range in Rodman’s Neck, where he allegedly went to work after the shooting.
Police tracked him down through surveillance, canvassing and following his vehicle.
Middleton was arrested while working at Rodman’s Neck on Friday.
A New York correction officers’ union attorney said Middleton saw a passenger in the car make a hand gesture after getting stung with what he described “felt like glass.”
“I’m trying to provide context,” attorney Joey Jackson explained over Middleton’s initial court appearance.
“That context would suggest to the court at the time my client discharged a single round, he was doing so under the belief that he was in immediate fear of death of his life.”
The shooter has been charged with murder, manslaughter, and criminal possession of a weapon.
Prosecutors argued that Dion Middleton told investigators he never saw anyone holding a weapon or heard shots fired.
“He also stated that was not injured and was not hurt and he was not shot,” said Justin Siebel of the state attorney general’s office.
“The defendant then continued walking on his regular course and did not at any point stop and call the police or inform anybody.”
Jiraida Esquilin, 29, Chaluisant’s older sister, said her brother was participating in a water gun fight with neighborhood friends on a hot summer night.
“I can’t believe a corrections officer killed my brother,” said Esquilin. “Everything nowadays is a rage thing.”
“They were just having fun. It’s a nerf gun that shoots water,” she added. “The whole neighborhood was having a water gun fight. It was 90 degrees.”
Jiraida Esquilin said her family was still grieving the loss of their father, who passed away five months ago.
She also said her mother couldn’t identify her fatally wounded son, maintaining that he was shot at close range in the chin.
“My brother was well-known and well-loved by everyone in that neighborhood,” Esquilin said.
“He was just hanging out and having a good time.”
Although the family doesn’t know who Chaluisant was with, he had told his mother earlier that he was going to McDonald’s.
Raymond Chaluisant’s body was found a half mile away from the shooting scene.
He was unconscious in the passenger seat of a silver Acura when cops arrived.
Police didn’t release the vehicle driver’s name, a 22-year-old acquaintance of Chaluisant’s from Yonkers.
“I can’t believe they just drove him and left him there,” said Esquilin of the Acura driver.
Chaluisant’s family was bewildered that Middleton returned to work after shooting the young man.
“He did not deserve this, especially from a whole correction officer that was off duty,” said Esquilin.
“And then for him to go to work, as if nothing happened – it’s mind blowing. He basically had no remorse because you’re going into work the next day knowing you shot an 18-year-old little boy.”
Opinions expressed by NY Weekly contributors are their own.