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Teen with Toy Water Gun Fatally Shot by Off-Duty NYC Prison Guard

By Jo Ellen Nott

An off-duty guard with the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC) was indicted on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges—both first-degree and second-degree—in Bronx County Criminal Court on August 22, 2022, for the fatal shooting of a teenager firing a toy water gun from inside a passing car.

The shooting occurred in the Bronx around 1:00 a.m. on July 21, 2022, when Raymond Chaluisant, 18, was shooting an “Orbeez” toy gun from the passenger seat of a silver Acura. The “Orbeez” gun resembles a pistol and shoots gel water beads propelled by a spring-loaded air pump. As the car and teen passed by, the guard, 45-year-old Dion Middleton, was allegedly struck by a bead and returned fire with his gun, striking and killing Chaluisant.

Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association President Benny Boscio, Jr. offered a defense of his union’s member: “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.” City police also tweeted that the “Orbeez” is considered an air rifle and is illegal to possess in New York.

But the victim’s sister, Jiraida Esquilin, 29, said her little brother was simply cooling off on a hot summer night by taking part in a water gun fight with neighborhood friends. “They were just having fun,” she said. “It’s a new nerf gun that shoots water. The whole neighborhood was having a water gun fight. It was 90 degrees.”

Police found Chaluisant unconscious and alone in the automobile, a half mile away from the shooting. The driver of the car, a 22-year-old acquaintance of the victim, had fled. Chaluisant was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital but could not be resuscitated.

The family was already coping with the loss of Esquilin’s father, who died six months earlier. Esquilin mentioned that her mother was not able to identify her Chaluisant’s body because he had taken Middleton’s shot in the chin at close range. She rued his murder, saying that guards like Middleton are trained to be patient. “The officer could have opted not to shoot but instead approach[ed] the car and sa[id] something,” she claimed.

The family was also traumatized to learn that after the killing, Middleton clocked into work as usual. Police tracked him down using surveillance canvassing and arrested him at the city Police Department shooting range in Rodman’s Neck, where Middleton works as a trainer. He was placed on leave by DOC commissioner Louis Molina. Middleton is represented by attorney and CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson.

Sources:  CNN, New York Daily News, New York Post

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