Shooting death charges upgraded

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) -  A 16 year old Phenix City boy is being charged in the shooting death of his cousin. Originally police arrested him for assault, but that charge has recently been upgraded to manslaughter.

One Phenix City family was shaken up when 18 year old Traquavious Moss was killed and his 16 year old cousin  blamed.

"He was originally charged with assault but because the victim died during the process of us charging him, we upgraded that to manslaughter," explained Phenix City Police Chief Ray Smith.

The juvenile is facing manslaughter charges for accidentally shooting Moss in the head. Chief Smith said, "At 16 years old you're automatically charged as an adult and that goes up for a judicial review to determine if it stays in adult court or if it will go back to juvenile court."

According to witness testimony the 16 year old was standing up and pulling up his pants when the gun fell and discharged, shooting the victim who was sitting just a few feet away on the floor.

Firearm specialist and owner of Shooters in Columbus, Jon McMullen, says although an accidental discharge could happen, it isn't common, "For most guns in the Unites States, they are well designed and have to pass a number of safety tests prior to being sold. That particular gun may have been damaged, it may have malfunctioned or been rusty. There are other factors that can affect the safeties of a firearm. With a well cared for gun at a reasonable quality, a drop from waist level should not cause it to discharge."

Chief Smith says the final step in this investigation is to test the firearm to find out if all the witness reports of the gun falling and firing are true, "We'll look at the gun in question to find out if that's possible with that type of mechanism, what the condition of the gun is, what the safety on the devices were, and if they were operable."

After this accidental shooting a 16 year old is charged in his cousin's death. Phenix City Police say that although the investigation is not complete, they doubt any new information will come out.

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