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District attorney says no charges against Jacksonville police officer who shot & killed son

District attorney says no charges against Jacksonville police officer who shot & killed son
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 7:24 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 3:54 PM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A special prosecutor said there will be no charges brought against a Jacksonville police officer for shooting and killing his teenage son.

Wilmington District Attorney Ben David announced that determination in a morning press conference at the Onslow County Courthouse.

Officials say Detective John Clukey fatally shot his son, Alexander Clukey, outside the family home on Haw Branch Road on Dec. 27th. At the time, deputies said the child’s father accidentally shot his son in the head.

Prosecutors say the officer left his home to retrieve his police vehicle and had his service revolver on his side. They say when he returned home, he was met by his son, and the two engaged in an Airsoft gun battle in the front yard. The three Airsoft guns were Christmas gifts; Clukey had two pistol-style Airsoft guns, and his son had an AR-15-style Airsoft gun.

When Clukey’s first pistol-style Airsoft gun was empty, he threw that to the ground and mistakenly grabbed his service weapon instead of the second Airsoft gun.

David’s summary of events said once the officer realized he had shot his service weapon, he ran to his son and called 911. The dispatcher asked for the address of the emergency, which Clukey gave, adding, “my son was playing fake guns and someone shot with a real gun.”

While waiting for over 11 minutes for emergency personnel, Clukey said “I deserve everything I have coming to me,” “take me instead,” “stay with me,” and “I’m so sorry,” according to David’s report. David says at one point during the call, another child of Clukey left the house, and he told them to go back inside.

David said the investigation showed that Clukey mistakenly believed he was pointing a toy gun at his son. He said the officer should have been more careful than to play an Airsoft game with his son while having a real gun in his holster.

The special prosecutor said there was not a real likelihood that they would receive a conviction if charges were brought. Detectives were unable to find any eyewitness to the shooting and it was outside the view of any cameras.

“There is no evidence that John Clukey intended the death or injury of Alexander Clukey,” David said. “No substantiated evidence of any domestic abuse or threats of abuse, or of any homicidal ideation or planning have been discovered. Everything about this incident shows a father who did not intend for this to happen.”

David added that a killing not meant to have happened is not the end of an investigation, but there is no evidence that this killing occurred during the course of unlawful conduct. According to David, it is not against the law to have a consensual Airsoft game with a child, but it is a crime to knowingly point a firearm at anyone “either in fun or otherwise, whether such a gun or pistol be loaded or not loaded.”

Onslow County District Attorney Ernie Lee removed himself from the investigation earlier this month. Lee says that he made the decision to avoid the appearance of any partiality or potential conflict. Clukey is a lead detective in an upcoming murder trial, according to Lee.

The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts officially assigned Attorney Ben David and his office to the case.

Clukey has been a police officer since 2010 and his current rank is listed as corporal. He was placed on administrative leave after the shooting, according to Jacksonville police.

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