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“I Forgot I Had The Gun In My Hand”

by Paul Bass | Dec 9, 2013 6:04 pm

(12) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Legal Writes

Thomas MacMillan Photo An 18-year-old Hillhouse High School student said he “accidentally pulled the trigger” of a pistol while engaged in “horseplay” with a 23-year-old friend—firing a shot that left his friend dead.

The student, Shunravion Jackson, told that story to police, who arrested him on charges of second-degree manslaughter.

That story—the third of three Jackson told police—appears in police reports made public Monday.

It concerns the shooting death Saturday of 23-year-old Shamar Willett inside a second-floor home on Harding Place. The shooting took place Saturday afternoon. Police encountered Jackson near the scene, and subsequently questioned and arrested him after a brief struggle. Jackson appeared Monday in Courtroom B of the Elm Street courthouse before Superior Court Judge Maureen Keegan, who ordered him held on $100,000 bond.

Assistant State’s Attorney Kelly Davis requested that Keegan place a $250,000 bond on the suspect, at the urging of the victim’s family. Keegan instead followed the recommendation of the bail commissioner, who suggested the $100,000 bond. The judge also ordered the suspect, if he does make bond, not to have any contact with the victim’s family.

Jackson, who wore a white jumpsuit in court, did not enter a plea or speak. His next scheduled court date is Dec. 16. The bail commissioner reported that Jackson did not have prior arrests, and he “has aspirations of attending college,” according to his public defender, Maggie Castinado.

Here’s what happened Saturday, according to a report written by Detective Bertram Ettienne:

Two women called 911 at 1:28 p.m. Saturday to report a shooting. Two officers arrived in the apartment to find Willett lying on a couch, held by his mother and “bleeding from his chest and mouth.”

A third officer approached the house from the rear, and came across Jackson “running out the back door.” Jackson “tried to pull away”; the officer arrested him for interfering with an officer, then had him sent to police headquarters so detectives could interview him.

Willett was taken by ambulance to Yale-New Haven Hospital where efforts to revive him failed. He was pronounced dead at 1:56 p.m.

Detectives got conflicting stories from interviewees. Jackson’s siblings at first claimed he had been “buying groceries” at Moe’s Market at the time of the shooting; then one sister admitted lying to “keep her brother out of it.” Willett’s mother, meanwhile, “was adamant she didn’t know” how her son got shot or “who would’ve had a gun in the apartment.”

Jackson himself gave three versions of what happened when Detectives Ettienne and Michael Wuchek interviewed him at police headquarters, according to the report.

First he “lied and said at the time of the shooting he was walking back from McDonald’s located on Whalley Avenue, and when he arrived at 35 Harding Pl. he saw [the victim] laying on the couch suffering from a gunshot wound.”

Then Jackson said he was “alone in the rear bedroom” of the second-floor apartment “smoking marijuana when he heard one gunshot ... ‘I heard the shot go off, I didn’t think nothing about it, I just kept laying there,” then heard people “running around the apartment screaming, ‘Call 911.’”

His third story had him standing near the kitchen table “playing around” with Willett. Someone had a “small black pistol”; it “went off by accident.” Someone then placed the gun on the table. Jackson picked it up “with his right hand” while he “continued to horseplay” with Willett “by jumping on him and trying to give him a bear hug.” They faced each other, close, when Jackson “accidentally squeezed the trigger,” he told detectives.

“I forgot I had the gun in my hand,” the report quotes Jackson as saying. “I didn’t know I hit nobody, and then I seen his face, and then he grabbed me, and said, ‘It’s all right, it’s all right.’” Jackson denied knowing to who the pistol belonged.

At a Monday afternoon press conference at police headquarters on Union Avenue, Assistant Chief Archie Generoso said, “Our investigation shows that this was not an intentional shooting.”

Both Generoso and Chief Dean Esserman called the incident a “tragedy.”

Generoso said the gun involved was a small-caliber pistol. He said Jackson’s sister has a relationship with a member of the Willett family. “He was like a brother-in-law” to the family, Generoso said.

“There’s victims on both ends,” Generoso said. One family lost a son and brother, but the family of the shooter, “they still suffer loss,” Generoso said.

“It’s tragic. These people were not enemies. They were friends, family.”

Thomas MacMillan contributed reporting.

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posted by: Wooster Squared on December 8, 2013  1:32pm

This guy shoots someone in the chest and kills him and the charge is second-degree manslaughter? Why not a murder charge? This guy will probably be out of jail in a few years assuming he’s even convicted.

I suppose it just wouldn’t be New Haven if we didn’t care about about the criminals than their victims.

I’m now waiting for familiar chorus of excuse makers and the like to jump in and insist that if only these kids had more to do… or better role models… or whatever other excuse is the flavor of the month when it comes to blaming criminal activity in New Haven on anything or anyone but the criminals themselves.

When are we going to start taking the crime problem in this City seriously?

posted by: TheMadcap on December 8, 2013  5:39pm

How about he was charged with manslaughter because that’s what the cops assessment of the scene warranted for? What reality are you living in where murder isn’t the usual charge for people who commit homicides?

posted by: Noteworthy on December 9, 2013  3:50pm

They forgot “breach of peace.”

posted by: Honeybutterfly on December 9, 2013  5:28pm

This story is untrue learn all the facts before you rush to judgements

posted by: Threefifths on December 9, 2013  6:55pm

posted by: Wooster Squared on December 8, 2013 12:32pm

This guy shoots someone in the chest and kills him and the charge is second-degree manslaughter?

FindLaw Blotter
Legally speaking, murder involves killing with malice or with some nasty intention behind your actions. But with manslaughter, there is no malice and also, by definition, no premeditation.

Essentially, manslaughter charges indicate that the defendant had no intention to kill the victim and didn’t plan it beforehand. However, his actions were reckless or negligent enough that he could have avoided killing if he’d acted appropriately.

posted by: jim1 on December 9, 2013  7:22pm

Did not know he had the gun in his hand???  Must not have any feeling in that hand.  I know if I have a coin in my hand or a gun. Gun must have a owner but the police can’t look it up as it is mostly hot.  Make more gun laws!!! You play with guns and this is what happens.

posted by: Tom Burns on December 10, 2013  1:53am

So sad—yet our conservative brethren will continue to state that “guns don’t kill people” good God—if no GUN were present no one would have died—I am so sorry for both families—in Australia, Canada and England this tragedy could never happen—you fake Americans need to give up your guns—Now—Tom

posted by: Honeybutterfly on December 10, 2013  4:00am

The story is false maybe the victims family knows more
Then what they are saying

posted by: jim1 on December 10, 2013  9:25am

Tom Let’s see, “fake Americans to give up guns.”  Will the people that are doing these kinds of crimes give up there guns?  Not a chance. I might have to because I go by the laws on the books. If I need help who do I call?, the Cops and wait 30-45 min. because the crime is low on the list.

posted by: Career High School Parent on December 10, 2013  11:56am

@ Tom

We are fake,  but you are here…lol. You love us so much that you packed up your whole life and moved to our soil? Are you a teenager? Sounds like something a prepubescent/naive tween would say. Bless your little heart..

On another note,

@ honeybfly,
Enough is enough with our boys toting these guns around and mothers/families allowing it. There is a culture amongst a subset of us that feels that this type of reckless behavior is ok. Mothers need to start demanding better behavior from their sons. If a son knows that his mom will kick his a**  if he even THINKS about carrying a gun, then a lot of these senseless crimes wouldn’t happen.

The bottom line is that a young man is dead, obviously you know more than you are saying…but know one cares, what your opinion is, it doesn’t mean a thing because two more black male lives have been squandered…why? Because their parents are idiots….that’s why!

posted by: Career High School Parent on December 10, 2013  4:27pm

YIke’s…i meant to say no one cares!

posted by: Threefifths on December 10, 2013  6:58pm

How about trying this.

American gun use is out of control. Shouldn’t the world intervene?
The death toll from firearms in the US suggests that the country is gripped by civil war.

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