Associated Press Published

Police: Slain Teen Had BB Gun in Waistband, Nothing in Hands


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 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, Means had a BB gun in his waistband, though video footage showed nothing in his hands when he was killed.

“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.

“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.