A man in South Carolina said police shot him nearly 50 times as he was having a mental health crisis in a parked truck while talking to his mother.
Trevor Mullinax, 29, survived nine strokes in May 2021, with three head injuries, according to the lawsuit filed against the York County Sheriff’s Office.
Four sheriff’s deputies began shooting seconds after arriving on the scene and yelling “hands up” multiple times, as seen in police dash cam footage released by Mr. Mullinax’s attorneys.
The barrage lasted five seconds and left the pickup’s windshield riddled with bullet holes.
“Those officers came out there as John Wayne cowboys. They came out there as gunslingers,” attorney Justin Bamberg said at a news conference.
Prosecutors looking into the case have not charged the four deputies.
Officers said they saw Mr. Mullinax reach into the back seat of the truck, grab a shotgun and point it at them, according to a letter from attorney Kevin Brackett clearing the officers.
However Mr Mullinax said his hands were up.
His mother, Tammy Beason, said she tried to comfort her son for hours after he threatened to kill himself.
He was standing by the driver’s window when the officers opened fire.
Ms. Beason was not injured, but officers handcuffed her less than a minute after the shooting. Two deputies took her away as she shouted, “What are they going to do with my son?”
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The video shows the shooting
Video shows MPs approaching Mr Mullinax’s lorry, which was parked on his family’s land near Rock Hill, on 7 May 2021.
A family member had called 911 because Mr Mullinax was threatening to kill himself.
He said that “we’re just trying to help our friend” and gave the operator his and his mother’s cell phone numbers, according to the 911 call.
Sheriff’s deputies also didn’t call and went to the truck after Mullinax’s grandfather told them where it was, Bamberg said.
About 47 shots were fired in five seconds, according to the state’s Law Enforcement Division report on the shooting.
The video shows two policemen pulling the bleeding and injured Mr Mullinax off the lorry and handcuffing him.
“You’re Not a Death Squad”
“You are not a death squad. You should try to help people, even if you have to shoot them,” Mr. Bamberg said.
“They handcuffed this man with three bullet holes in his head and then handcuffed his mother. They treat her like a criminal. It was disgusting.”
Mr Mullinax was the only person charged in the 2021 shooting and is likely to have aimed and presented a firearm, a felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
At the time of the shooting, he had a warrant out for his arrest on a different charge, but his lawyers said the burglary charge was dismissed and there are no court records on it.
“If it helps just one person… that’s fine with me”
The York County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday released a statement from Sheriff Kevin Tolson saying, “Mr. Mullinax chose to endanger these men by pulling out a shotgun.
“These MPs responded appropriately to the threat as they had been trained to do. Had Mr Mullinax made different choices that day, MPs would not have been required to use force.”
Mr Mullinax said he hated what his mental health crisis has turned into, adding: ‘But if it helps just one person in this world not having to deal with what my family and I have, I’m fine with it.’