A 20-year-old man was charged with murder Tuesday in the fatal Oct. 31 shooting of a longtime friend, killed by a shot from a gun the suspect said he thought was unloaded, authorities said.
Damian L. Joseph, 20, is charged in the death of Jamal Cheeks, 21, who was fatally shot about 3:55 p.m. Oct. 31 inside Joseph's home in the 2000 block of 22nd Avenue.
Officer Phong Tran said Joseph initially denied being the gunman. But when confronted with conflicting evidence and witness statements, he remorsefully admitted pointing a semi-automatic pistol he thought was unloaded at Cheeks from a few feet away before pulling the trigger and shooting him in the neck, Tran said.
According to court documents, Joseph said he was "playing" with the gun and "accidentally" shot Cheeks.
Cheeks died at the scene. Joseph was detained there and eventually arrested. The gun was recovered.
Even though Joseph said the shooting was accidental, authorities said the murder charge was filed because while he may have thought the gun was unloaded, he made an inherently dangerous and conscious decision to point it at Cheeks and pull the trigger.
Police said Joseph told investigators he had bought the gun from someone on the street for protection.