Jacksonville, NC – A Jacksonville police detective who fatally shot his teenage son in a bizarre incident shortly after Christmas will not be criminally charged.
Alexander Clukey, 15, was shot in the head with a .45-caliber handgun fired by his father, off-duty Jacksonville Police Detective John Clukey, as they were “playing with toy guns” on Dec. 27, 2021, The Daily News reported.
The shooting occurred outside the Clukey family home on Haw Branch Road, according to WITN.
Prosecutors said the off-duty detective had his duty pistol on his side when he left the house to go pick up his patrol vehicle to bring it back home.
When Det. Clukey got back to the house, Alexander met him out in the front yard with the airsoft guns they had received as Christmas gifts, WITN reported.
The teen had an AR-15-style airsoft gun, and Det. Clukey had two handgun-style airsoft guns, prosecutors said.
As the two engaged in an airsoft battle out in the front yard, the detective’s first airsoft pistol ran out of ammunition, WITN reported.
He threw it to the ground and grabbed what he thought was his second airsoft pistol, and fired it at his son, prosecutors said.
But Det. Clukey had mistakenly grabbed his duty weapon.
He ran to his son, who had been shot in the head, and immediately called 911, WITN reported.
“My son was playing fake guns and someone shot with a real gun,” Det. Clukey told the 911 dispatcher after providing her with their address.
The detective waited for over 11 minutes for emergency personnel to arrive, WITN reported.
“I deserve everything I have coming to me,” he said as he remained on the line with the 911 dispatcher.
“I’m so sorry,” he told his son. “Take me instead…stay with me.”
Alexander was transported to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, where he succumbed to his wounds on Jan. 3, according to WNCT.
Wilmington District Attorney Brian David took over the case at the request of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Court after North Carolina 5th Prosecutorial District Attorney Ernie Lee recused himself because he and the detective work together, The Daily News reported.
“Detective Clukey is the lead detective in a pending first-degree murder and several other felony cases in Onslow County,” Lee said in a press release.
Lee noted he wanted “to avoid the appearance of any partiality” in the matter, The Daily News reported.
David announced during a press conference at the Onslow County Courthouse on Jan. 19 that the investigation showed Det. Clukey mistakenly believed he was using a toy gun when he fired at his son, WITN reported.
No one witnessed the shooting and the incident was not captured by any security cameras.
“There is no evidence that John Clukey intended the death or injury of Alexander Clukey,” the special prosecutor concluded. “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.”
“Clukey, to be clear, should have been more careful than to have played an airsoft game while wearing a holster with a real firearm,” David acknowledged. “There’s no dispute about that.”
The shooting was an accident, the special prosecutor concluded.
“This is an accidental shooting that occurred while a father and son were engaged in horseplay,” David said, according to KVOA. “In the present instance there is insufficient proof that John Clukey acted in a negligent manner. Accidents do happen.”
Det. Clukey, a 12-year veteran of the Jacksonville Police Department (JPD), was placed on administrative leave after the shooting, WITN reported.
An internal investigation has also been launched, according to The Daily News.