Lawsuit: Deputies fired nearly 50 shots at suicidal York County man
The York County Sheriff’s Office plans to hold a news conference about the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon.
YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) – A man and his mother are suing the York County Sheriff’s Office for excessive force after deputies allegedly fired almost 50 shots at the man said to be in the midst of severe emotional distress.
According to the lawsuit, Trevor Mullinax was sitting in his pickup truck on private property while his mother, Tammy Beason, was standing beside the truck and talking to him in May of 2021.
Court documents state Mullinax had a hunting shotgun in his possession at the time, “and at no point did he point the weapon at himself or any other person.”
Eventually, a wellness check was called in for Mullinax. The lawsuit alleges the responding deputies never tried to call either Mullinax or his mother despite the caller providing 911 with their cellphone numbers and noting Mullinax was suicidal.
“Prior to arriving at the Plaintiffs’ location, Sheriff’s deputies failed to plan, choosing instead to ride in like cowboys from a John Wayne movie, defaulting to using deadly force, immediately, without attempting to deescalate the situation, in complete disregard for State law/regulation, Sheriff’s policies, and/or County ordinances,” the lawsuit states.
According to court documents, the deputies fired almost 50 rounds at Mullinax, striking him approximately nine times, including in the head. The plaintiffs’ attorneys allege this happened despite Beason being in the line of fire and Mullinax having both his arms raised.
The lawsuit alleges during the encounter with deputies, Mullinax never raised or pointed a weapon in a way that would have authorized deputies to use deadly force when they fired dozens of shots at him. Their attorney released some of the body cam video from that day.
“I have always supported the police. I believe in the police, I still believe in the police,” Beason said on Tuesday. “But I can tell you that it’s hard to believe in the police when you … they destroyed everything that I believe in that day. And it has taken me a very long time to try to and recover from that. I’m still recovering.”
In response, the York County Sheriff’s Office said the matter was investigated independently by the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division, and all the deputies involved were cleared of any wrongdoing by the 16th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
According to the sheriff’s office, Mullinax pulled a shotgun on deputies that day.
“These deputies responded appropriately to the threat as they were trained to do,” York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said in a statement. “Had Mr. Mullinax made different choices that day, deputies would not have been required to use force.
A news release stated three of the four deputies involved in the shooting are still serving the community. The fourth voluntarily left the agency last April to take a job in the private sector.
The York County Sheriff’s Office plans to hold a news conference about the lawsuit Wednesday at 3 p.m.
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