Slain teenager’s father asks judge for leniency

A father who just 24 hours earlier lost his son in an accidental shooting asked a judge Wednesday to be lenient with the 16-year-old boy who somehow fired off a bullet that felled his best friend.

Brandon Coleman sat in the witness chair, staring at Sheldon Payne Jr., now a defendant adorned in an orange prison jumpsuit and ankle shackles.

“I realized what happened was a mistake,” Coleman told East Baton Rouge Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Richey at a hearing to consider whether Payne should stay locked up pending trial or be released with bond.

Coleman’s son, 14-year-old Brandon Bindon, had been sitting in a car Tuesday afternoon with Payne and two others. Payne, in the backseat, was playing with a revolver, taking photos of the weapon, when it went off. The bullet struck Bindon in the side, police said.

Homicide detectives booked Payne into the parish’s juvenile detention center late Tuesday on a negligent homicide charge.

Coleman testified at the behest of Payne’s public defender, Wren’nel Gibson. He pleaded to Richey that Payne deserved to be with family, not in a jail cell.

“He’s a good kid,” Coleman said about Payne, described by his attorney as a first-time offender. “If there’s anything I can do to help him get out of this, I’ll do it.”

Richey set bail at $5,000, which Payne’s parents paid. The family, who attended the hearing, told Richey they would hire an attorney.

The public defender stipulated that there was enough evidence to support Payne’s arrest.

After the hearing, Payne and Coleman embraced in the hallway. Payne cried, “I’m so sorry.”

People from both families exchanged hugs outside the courtroom before Bindon’s family left.

Bindon, a Capitol Middle School student who led his youth football team to a city championship months ago, was taken to Baton Rouge General Regional Medical Center Mid-City after he was shot. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Coleman did not speak to reporters outside the courthouse.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he will prosecute Payne in juvenile court, rather than try to move the case to the 19th Judicial District Court because the shooting was an accident and there was no ill intent on Payne’s part.

Payne is due in Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson’s courtroom at 9 a.m. June 23.