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Crime & Courts

York County Officer-Involved Shooting Draws National Attention

“Cowboys from a John Wayne movie?” Or attempted “suicide by cop?”

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At 8:00 a.m. EDT on the morning of Tuesday, May 9, 2023, South Carolina state representative Justin Bamberg posted a graphic video to his Twitter page.

Bamberg – who has gained a national following as an attorney representing victims of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh – shared police dashboard camera footage from an incident which took place more than two years ago involving his client, 29-year-old Trevor Mullinax of Rock Hill, S.C.

Mullinax was in a bad way on the afternoon of May 7, 2021. He was “suffering severe emotional distress stemming from personal relationship issues” and was “contemplating suicide,” according to a civil lawsuit filed last week in the S.C. sixteenth judicial circuit. He had driven to a family property and was sitting in his pickup truck talking to his mother, Tammy Beason.

Deputies of the York County sheriff’s office had been called to Mullinax’s family property for a “wellness check” – and were apprised prior to their arrival that he had expressed “suicidal ideations,” according to excerpts (.pdf) from a report compiled by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

It has even been suggested Mullinax was attempting to commit “suicide by cop.”

“Prior to arriving at the location on the property where (Mullinax) was still sitting inside his pickup truck, sheriff’s deputies drew their firearms and were prepared to shoot (him) and exercise deadly force before they made verbal contact with him,” the lawsuit (.pdf) filed by Bamberg alleged. “Sheriff’s deputies failed to plan, choosing instead to ride in like cowboys from a John Wayne movie.”

Is that true?

Take a look …

Bad, right?

Nearly fifty rounds were fired at Mullinax. He was hit nine times. Amazingly, though, he survived.

As Bamberg’s tweet was making the rounds this week, NBC News filed an exclusive report on the lawsuit containing the graphic dashboard camera footage – as well as still images taken from officers’ body-worn cameras.

“The deputies fired fifty times at close range and when it was over the deafening roar was replaced by Beason’s piercing screams,” reporters Gabe Gutierrez and Corky Siemaszko wrote.

What the video and still images don’t conclusively reveal, however, is whether the four responding deputies – Daniel Taggart, Michael Griffin, Gary Pence and Brian Whitesides – fired their weapons at Mullinax in response to him pointing and presenting a firearm at them.

Mullinax was armed with a hunting shotgun at the time, but Bamberg said he never pointed it at anyone.

According to the lawsuit, “the entire time (Beason) was talking to her son through the driver’s side window, the shotgun was present.”

“Sheriff’s deputies jumped from their Sheriff-issued patrol vehicles that were still in motion, immediately pointing their loaded, department issued firearms at Mullinax,” the lawsuit claimed. “Immediately and without warning, justification, authorization … Sheriff’s deputies began firing their weapons at Mullinax’s vehicle.”

Is that true, though?

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Not according to the SLED report, which concluded Mullinax “pointed and/or presented a firearm at the (York) deputies from inside his vehicle when they encountered him.”

The report further claimed Beason acknowledged to police after the shooting that she “saw Mullinax reach and grab a firearm when (York) deputies arrived at the truck.”

“He reached, and he grabbed it and he pulled it up and that’s when they saw it and started shooting,” Beason told SLED, according to the report.

That would seem to be a pretty damning acknowledgment …

Was getting shot Mullinax’s plan all along?

According to the report, he “informed medical personnel he wanted to shoot himself but then decided to have the police do it.”

Sources familiar with the investigation confirmed Mullinax told medical personnel he “initially thought he would shoot himself but said he did not think he would have the courage to do so.”

Hence the attempted “suicide by cop.”

(Click to View)

Trevor Mullinax (Provided)

On October 25, 2021, S.C. sixteenth circuit solicitor Kevin Brackett submitted a letter to SLED (.pdf) declining to prosecute the four officers involved in the incident, concluding the “use of force … was appropriate given the nature of the threat.”

“The officers justifiably believed that Mr. Mullinax posed a threat to their lives and possibly the life of the woman standing near his vehicle door,” Brackett wrote. “Based on this reasonable assessment of the threat, they opened fire with their service weapons in self-defense.”

“I tell all of my deputies that their goal is to serve the citizens of York County and then to go home safely to their families,” York sheriff Kevin Tolson said in a statement responding to the lawsuit. “Mr. Mullinax chose to put these men in danger by pulling a shotgun.  These deputies responded appropriately to the threat as they were trained to do.  Had Mr. Mullinax made different choices that day, deputies would not have been required to use force.”

Count on this news outlet to keep our readers updated on the status of Mullinax’s case as it makes its way though the legal system.

Finally, as is our custom in reporting on incidents involving suicides (or attempted suicides), please remember: If anyone reading this post is dealing with issues that have them questioning whether to take their own life (or attempt harming themselves), please – call a friend

You can also reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK. Or, just call or text 988 from your mobile phone (or click here to chat).

Remember, “you are not alone … you are never alone.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks on phone
Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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10 comments

Avatar photo
The Colonel Top fan May 10, 2023 at 6:58 pm

That’s why I carry a .357. 9’s and .40s aren’t heavy enough to put a target down through a windscreen. That bunch of Keystone Cops shouldn’t be carrying squirt guns…

Reply
Observer May 10, 2023 at 9:09 pm

And by target, you mean a case…who am I kidding….a burrowed can of Bud Light?

Reply
Observer May 11, 2023 at 1:30 am

Still posing as me, I see?

Reply
Observer May 11, 2023 at 1:34 am

Gee, they handcuffed the Mom? This new breed is afraid of every goddamned thing. Pussies.

Reply
Amanda Jenkins Top fan May 11, 2023 at 4:45 am

Much respect LOST by Representative Bamberg! I was unable to see his client’s hands out the window when I heard the verbal instructions given by the responding officers. Apparently, Bamberg is only concerned with representing those who don’t put their life on the line everyday to protect the people’s rights.

Is there any question as to why there are a shortage of police officers?

I wish the responding agency would spend the money to fight lawsuits like this instead of giving them a small settlement. I’m sure it’s cheaper to settle than fight it. It would cost a small fortune for an agency to hire a lawyer/lawmaker to stand up for all people, not just the entitled ones. Since Senator Harpootlian believes everyone has a right to be represented, maybe he would be willing to help the defendants in this case?

This is more evidence of the SC injustice system at it’s finest.

Reply
jbl1a May 11, 2023 at 7:25 am

Well Bamberg is a lawyer/legislator/democrat. Not much respect to be had there.

Reply
Casey Scott Top fan May 11, 2023 at 8:08 am

No reflection on the officers, probably would have done the same were it me. Just a question, “is there room to shoulder a shotgun behind the wheel of a pickup truck without sticking it out the window?”

Reply
Observer May 11, 2023 at 8:47 am

Another murderer pig in action.

Who trains these shitbirds to be so scared and pussylike?

Reply
Mina Harrington Top fan May 11, 2023 at 12:00 pm

Thanks — this explains a WHOLE LOT!!! It was a justified shooting.

Reply
Nancy Bryson Top fan May 12, 2023 at 11:00 am

Rule # 1: NEVER call the cops. Especially when you “just want to get our buddy some help”.

Reply

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