YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WJZY) — A South Carolina man who survived being shot nine times – including once in the backside of the head – during a welfare check, has filed a lawsuit against the county and sheriff’s office over the incident, his legal team announced.
Deputies with the York County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) responded to calls regarding a welfare check on May 7, 2021, along East Highway 324.
The 2023 lawsuit is being filed by Trevor Mullinax and his mother, Tammy Beason. According to the family attorney and South Carolina House Representative Justin Bamberg, Mullinax was having a severe emotional breakdown and was suicidal.
Bamberg states a family member had called 911 to report his mental health emergency. The family member reportedly provided the dispatcher with numbers for both Mullinax and his mother.
Watch Tuesday’s news conference with Bamberg and Beason here:
Mullinax’s mother was speaking to him through the driver’s side window of his truck when deputies with the York County Sheriff’s Office arrived.
“The deputies jumped out of their vehicles and almost immediately started firing their weapons into Mullinax’s truck. Tammy Beason had to leap out of the way and was nearly hit by the shots fired,” Bamberg said in a released statement.
Bodycam and dashcam video released from Bamberg’s legal team this week show the man’s mother trying to de-escalate the situation through the window of Mullinax’s pickup truck.
“Deputies fired nearly 50 rounds into the vehicle, striking Mullinax nine times including once in the backside of the head. Mullinax survived the shooting but spent significant time in the hospital and still hasn’t fully recovered from injuries suffered in the shooting,” Bamberg said.
Mullinax’s attorneys said he had a hunting shotgun in his truck, but never pointed it at deputies. According to the YCSO and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Mullinax was armed during the incident and “retrieved his shotgun from the rear seat of the truck and presented it or pointed it at the officers.”
Mullinax was charged with pointing and presenting a firearm, they said.
The lawsuit against York County and the York County Sheriff’s Office alleges gross negligence, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution, among numerous other charges.
“The complaint notes a significant disconnect between the 911 dispatcher and deputies. According to the complaint, the 911 dispatcher did not provide deputies with cellphone numbers given by the family member so that deputies could de-escalate the situation,” Bamberg said. “The complaint contends that the deputies, even though they knew they were going to a call involving a suicidal person, didn’t bring a mental health expert.”
SLED aided in the investigation and cleared the deputies involved in the incident of wrongdoing.
While authorities said they could not respond to any specific allegations in the lawsuit, York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson issued the following statement:
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. 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.
Our ultimate goal is to ensure the safety of the public and our deputies. Regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, we want to reassure our residents that we will continue to provide high quality and professional law enforcement service.Sheriff Tolson
The sheriff’s office said three of the four deputies involved in the shooting were still serving with the YCSO as of May 9, 2023. One of the deputies voluntarily left the agency in April 2022 to take a job in the private sector, officials said.