A 20-year-old Pennsylvania man was shot dead by police Sunday night at a home in Harrisburg, authorities say.
Dauphin County District Attorney Edward Marisco said Earl Shaleek Pinckney, also known as Leek Moss, was holding a knife to his mother’s throat when he was killed by officers, PennLive reports. But Pinckney’s mother disputes the authorities’ version of events, saying her son was not holding a knife to her throat, but just had his hands around her head.
“You shot him right in the heart,” Thomas told PennLive, adding that they didn’t use a Taser. “I never saw the cop that hit my son. At the end of the day, I would like to look him in his face and ask him why did he shoot my son.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. His Mother Says He ‘Never Had a Knife’ or Anything in His Hands
Police responded to the 2330 Green Street home about 9 p.m. after a child inside the house called 911 and said his uncle was trying to hurt the child’s grandmother, District Attorney Edward Marisco said Monday at a press conference, according to PennLive.
Kim Thomas said her son and other relatives got into a fight.
“We had a little fight, argument like families have arguments,” Thomas told PennLive. “They were arguing. They got a little rustling. I stopped it. I told everybody to get out of the house. I hold my son. I was talking to my son. I know how to control my son. He was calming down. Everything was getting fine.”
Marisco said four responding officers went to a second-floor bedroom where Pinckney was holding his mother at knifepoint, with the weapon at her throat. He said the officers ordered him to drop the knife, but he didn’t comply.
Marisco said Pinckney’s mother tried to break free from her son’s grasp, but failed. An officer then fired a single shot, killing Pinckney, Marisco said.
Pinckney’s mother told a different story.
In an emotional interview with PennLive, Thomas said her son was not armed. “No, no,” she said. “He never had a knife.” She said he had nothing in his hands.
You can watch the full interview below:
The family also issued a formal statement about the shooting:
Last night, Harrisburg City Police shot our son, Earl Pinckney, during a domestic disturbance call. Following the incident, a criminal investigation was initiated during which local detectives immediately interviewed some members of the family, while others will be interviewed in the coming days.
Today, Dauphin County District Attorney, Ed Marsico, called a press conference to discuss the shooting and made statements regarding Earl’s conduct which allegedly precipitated the shooting.
While we understand that the criminal investigation into the shooting is in its preliminary stages, and there are still many more facts to be gathered, we want to be clear that we disagree with the preliminary statements made during the press conference as they directly contradict the eyewitness account of a family member who was at the scene prior to, during, and following the shooting.
We expect that law enforcement will follow its processes in conducting a full investigation based upon all the facts, and issues its findings in a timely fashion. But while that process is underway, we will be diligent in correcting any misinformation that does not accurately reflect the facts and circumstances that lead to our son’s death. We ask for our City’s prayers of comfort and consolation as we grieve his loss, and make clear our desire that peace and constructive dialogue between our community and law enforcement prevail as we begin the long and arduous task of searching for answers. No further comments will be made at this time.
Police did not comment on Thomas’ claims.
2. The Officer Who Shot Pinckney Was Placed on Paid Administrative Leave & Has Not Been Identified
The officer who fatally shot Pinckney has not been publicly identified. He has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation into the shooting, WHTM-TV reports.
Authorities said the officer has worked for the Harrisburg Bureau of Police for a year and a half. He has previous experience in another department, officials said.
Harrisburg Police Chief Tom Carter asked for “calm and understanding” as the facts of the case are investigated, according to WGAL-TV.
3. Pinckney Was the Father of a 2-Week-Old Daughter & Said on Facebook ‘Being a Dad Is the Only Thing That Makes Me Happy’
Pinckney, known as Leek Moss, was the father of a 2-week-old baby, according to his Facebook page.
Just hours before his death, Pinckney posted a photo with his daughter sleeping on his chest and wrote, “Being a dad is the only thing that makes me happy.”
4. Police Knew Pinckney Was Bipolar, His Mother Says
Pinckney’s mother, Kim Thomas, told PennLive her son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and police knew of that.
She said there was “no excuse for them to come in and shoot him. He wasn’t dangerous. He didn’t deserve this.”
According to PennLive, Pinckney faced misdemeanor charges including criminal mischief, simple assault and terroristic threats in 2015. He was sentenced to two years of probation on the simple assault charge.
The charges all involved domestic incidents with his mother.
PennLive obtained court records from the previous incidents involving Pinckney, including one from December 2015 in which he was accused of slamming his mother into a wall and threatening to kill her with a knife.
In August 2015, he was arrested on charges that he broke two of his mother’s car windows and her front window. He was put on probation in May and ordered to continue mental health treatment and take medication, according to the court documents.
In July 2015, Pinckney was accused of threatening to “commit a crime of violence with the intent to terrorize another,” and his mother was listed as the victim.
Police have not commented about whether they knew of Pinckney’s bipolar disorder diagnosis.
5. Thomas Said ‘the Violence Has to Stop’ & Called for Activists to Help
Kim Thomas told PennLive that she is asking “activists” to get involved in the case and has said she will do whatever she can in the future to help mothers dealing with the violent death of a child.
“The violence has to stop,” she told PennLive. “This needs to stop in Harrisburg …. It happened to me. I know how it feels.”
According to WGAL-TV, an emotionally charged crowd gathered at the scene, yelling at officers and demanding answers.
The city has scheduled a community meeting for Tuesday night at the Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church to discuss the shooting, Fox 43 News reports.
“I grieve with the family and express my sincere regret at the tragic events that unfolded Sunday in our city,” Mayor Eric Papenfuse said in a statement. “I know Chief Carter and his police officers share the pain we all feel as we try to console the family and unite our community.”