Slain Black Teen Had BB Gun: Police Claims

The latest police report avers that the slain Black teen, James Means had nothing in his hands but a BB gun in a waistband when he was shot.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – A Black West Virginia teenager had a BB gun in his waistband but nothing in his hands when he was fatally shot by a white man, a police detective has testified, according to The Washington Post.

According to police, 15-year-old James Means was shot in the chest and in the back Nov. 21 by 62-year-old William Pulliam after they bumped into each other outside a Charleston store and twice exchanged words.

Police said Pulliam showed no remorse and told investigators, “That’s another piece of trash off the street.”

Pulliam, who faces a first-degree murder charge, said in a jailhouse interview that he shot in self-defense after he felt threatened.

He told me that he shot him because he was hassling him,” Charleston Police Det. Chris Lioi testified during Pulliam’s preliminary hearing Thursday.

According to Lioi, the slain Black teen had a BB gun in his waistband, though video footage showed nothing in his hands when he was killed, ABC News states.

James Means had nothing in his hands and I observed Mr. Pulliam pull out a gun and discharge one round. James Means then falls to the ground. As he gets up, William Pulliam fires another round,” Lioi said.

The detective also said that audio captured from the footage suggested Pulliam knew the BB gun was a toy.

That toy gun is going to get you (expletive) killed,” Lioi said Pulliam could be heard saying before Means was shot.

No, it’s not,” Means responded, according to the detective.

Pulliam’s attorney, Richard Holicker, said neither he nor his client have seen the footage, and he argued that prosecutors should play it in court, the Daily News reports.

Hopefully, one day the state will let us see the video so we’ll know what happened,” Holicker said in his closing statement. “The fact that Mr. Pulliam shot Mr. Means doesn’t make this a first-degree murder,” he said.

A Kanawha County magistrate found probable cause to send the case to a grand jury.

Although local officials have said evidence has been turned over to federal authorities to determine if a hate crime would apply in this case, that issue was not part of Thursday’s hearing, according to 580 WCHS.

Members of the slain Black teen’s family were in the courtroom watching the hearing, which also drew media attention from outside West Virginia.

The fatal shooting took place Nov. 21 on Charleston’s East End near the corner of Washington and Nancy streets. Charleston Police were notified about 8:45 p.m.

Pulliam’s lawyer, Richard Hollicker, made the case that he had felt threatened and was reacting accordingly.

There is absolutely no question that Mr. Pulliam shot Mr. Means. But the fact that Mr. Pulliam shot Mr. Means doesn’t make this first-degree murder,” Hollicker said.

You have heard that Mr. Means had a gun in his waistband. I don’t know if there was a time when he was holding a gun in his hands or not, but it is clear that there was a gun in his waistband that was visible to Mr. Pulliam.” Mr. Pulliam didn’t shoot him; Mr. Pulliam continued to the Dollar General to purchase the items he went there to purchase. After he finished at the Dollar General, he once again started walking down the street, he got to the house where these young men were and he crossed the street to get away from them.

“Mr. Means, the slain Black teen who got shot, came across the street toward my client. It’s not clear exactly what happened. Hopefully some day the state will let us see the video so we’ll know what happened. But today we don’t know what happened except the broad strokes. Those broad strokes reflect that Mr. Pulliam walked across the street away from the young men, Mr. Means came toward Mr. Pulliam; don’t know exactly what led up to it but Mr. Pulliam shot Mr. Means. None of that says premeditation.

Kanawha County Prosecutor Maryclaire Akers made the case that Pulliam acted in cold blood.

“He comes out of the Dollar General, he walks intentionally down on the side of the street towards where he saw the young men go. He stays on that side of the street and then he crosses towards his apartment. He walks in front of them intentionally.”

Everyone who saw a photo of James means won’t have the slightest doubt of the fact that he had no weapon and didn’t threaten anyone. But if you look at Puliam’s photo… The striking difference between these two images clearly shows who pose real threat to American society.

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