Family Says That Michigan Man Who Shot Himself in The Head Demonstrating Gun Safety Did Not Intend Suicide

| by Allison Geller

The family of a man who shot himself in the head while doing a demonstration on gun safety wants his death certificate to reflect that his death was accidental, not intentional. 

James Jewell shot himself in the head in February at 39 years old while showing his girlfriend how to use his three handguns. His girlfriend, 36-year-old Jennifer Jackson, was performing CPR on Jewell when Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at his house.

Jackson told the deputies that her boyfriend had been drinking when he decided to give her the demonstration of how safe the guns were when empty. As he explained, he put one to his head and pulled the trigger. The gun went off and Jewell subsequently died.

“(The situation) is pretty unique, as I have never heard of anyone testing out the safety of a gun by pointing at their head and pulling the trigger,” Undersheriff Michael McCabe said at the time.

The Oakland County Medical Examiner ruled Jewell’s death a suicide. His family, however, contests that Jewell ever wanted to end his life.

“I was there. I know that’s not what he wanted to do,” Jackson told the Detroit Free Press.

Her boyfriend was trying to prove to her that guns are safe to convince her to keep one for her own protection, Jackson said. His death was a tragic accident.

But according to Oakland County Medical Examiner Ljubisa Dragovic, the fact that the death was self-inflicted makes it a classifiable suicide.

“The victim pulled the trigger and pointed the gun and applied the gun to his temple, unfortunately, and pulled the trigger, which all constitutes a set series of purposeful acts,” he said.

“Forensic pathology is not a democratic process,” he added.

“They’re all just assuming that he was some sloppy drunk, just running around shooting guns and being an idiot,” Jackson said. “I’m not saying what he did wasn’t foolish. But that’s not the way he was.”

The Oakland Press reports that the medical examiner has not been contacted by the family.

Sources: Oakland Press (2), Detroit Free Press