An off-duty corrections officer charged with fatally shooting an 18-year-old Bronx man who was carrying a water gun says he felt “immediate fear of the death of his life” and went to work after the incident

An off-duty New York prison employee charged with murder and manslaughter for shooting in a car where police found a water bead gun said he feared for his life when he felt a “stabbing pain in his back.” .

Authorities said Dion Middleton, 45, shot Raymond Chaluisant, 18, in the face on July 21 while he was sitting in the passenger side of an Acura. Police recovered an Orbeez gel blaster pistol from the vehicle. The guns have become popular on social media with TikTok posts featuring #OrbeezChallenge.

A lawyer for the New York Correctional Officers’ Union said Middleton saw a passenger in the car make a hand gesture after being stabbed with what “felt like glass.” Orbeez are beads filled with water.

Dion Middleton, an officer at the New York Correctional Facility, said he feared for his life when he shot and killed an 18-year-old boy on July 21, 2022. (Photo: YouTube/Ape Huncho/CBS New York)

“I’m trying to provide context,” attorney Joey Jackson said during Middleton’s first court appearance. “This context would suggest to the court that at the time my client delivered a single round, he did so with the belief that he was in imminent fear of death.”

Middleton was charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of weapons. Chaluisant reportedly died at a nearby hospital, and authorities arrested Middleton later in the day after reviewing surveillance footage. He was on the shooting range at the correctional facility where he works, the New York Times reported.

Prosecutors argued Middleton told investigators he never saw anyone holding a gun or heard gunshots.

“He also stated that he was not injured and was not injured and was not shot,” said Attorney General’s Justin Siebel. “The defendant then continued on his usual path and at no point did he stop and call the police or inform anyone.”

Family members were upset to learn that the officer returned to work shortly after the incident. “He didn’t deserve that, especially from a whole correctional officer who was off duty,” said the victim’s half-sister, Jiraida Esquilin. “And then he goes to work like nothing happened. It’s overwhelming … He basically had no remorse because you go into work the next day and you know you shot an 18-year-old little boy.”

Benny Boscio, president of the Benevolent Association of Correction Officers, said a New York City Police Department traffic officer was also hit with bullets in the same area.

“Toy guns no longer resemble toys, as illustrated by the images of this water gun, and they remain an ongoing threat to public safety,” Boscio said. “We will provide Officer Middleton with the best representation possible to ensure his legal rights are protected.”

A search for #OrbeezChallenge populates a community guidelines warning on TikTok and videos appear to be removed.

However, a search for a misspelled version of the word reveals videos of teenagers firing Orbeez guns at others, including the same model found in the car Chaluisant was riding in the second.

The New York City Police Department released a statement on Twitter following the shooting, noting that Orbeez guns are illegal in New York.

“Bead Blasters shoot gel water beads powered by a spring-loaded air pump, making it an airgun. Air guns are a violation in NYC and possession is unlawful,” the tweet said. “Violators found in possession of these items will receive a criminal subpoena and the weapon will be confiscated.”

Jackson said Middleton had no way of knowing Chaluisant was a teenager or the gun was a toy.

“There was no intention of killing anyone, the only thing my client had in mind was to be able to go home to his loved ones that night,” Jackson said. “It’s a gun that looks real and fires pellets. This is all the rage in connection with TikTok.”

Middleton is reportedly held on a $1 million bond, $1 million partially secured bond, $500,000 in cash or a $500,000 credit card. An off-duty corrections officer charged with fatally shooting an 18-year-old Bronx man who was carrying a water gun says he felt “immediate fear of the death of his life” and went to work after the incident

James Brien

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