DA: Officer justified in fatally shooting Harrisburg man

Earl Pinckney

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico says a city police officer was justified in using deadly force when he shot and killed a Harrisburg man last summer.

Marsico on Monday said the police officer fired to protect Kim Thomas, the mother of 20-year-old Earl “Shaleek” Pinckney, because he believed her life was in danger.

The district attorney says Pinckney had a knife to his mother’s throat before the officer shot him inside a second-floor bedroom Aug. 7 at his family’s home in the 2300 block of Green Street. He said Pinckney had refused orders to drop the knife.

Earl Pinckney with his mother, Kim Thomas.
Earl Pinckney with his mother, Kim Thomas.

Thomas has disputed Marsico’s account. She insisted after the shooting that her son wasn’t dangerous, and she said he didn’t have a knife. Her attorney, James Ellison, said the officer should have used a stun gun.

Marsico said the officer who fired the fatal shot had both his Taser and duty weapon out, but he couldn’t get a shot with the Taser so he put it away. He said the officer was able to get a clear shot when Pinckney lowered the knife slightly to his mother’s chest.

The district attorney said Thomas told two different county detectives that he took out a knife in the bedroom. The second was a recorded statement. Additionally, two city officers heard Thomas state that the knife should be in the bedroom. He said in subsequent statements, Thomas indicated there was no knife in the bedroom.

Police had responded to the home after a child called 911 and said her uncle was trying to hurt her grandmother. An adult then got on the phone and said her brother had their mother locked in a room and was threatening to kill her. The district attorney’s office on Monday released the 911 calls.

Marsico also pointed out that police had been called to the family’s home numerous times for arguments Pinkney had with his mother and other family members, beginning in 2008 when he was 11 years old.

In December 2013, Thomas told police her son had threatened her with a gun, but she later indicated there was no gun.

In December 2015, Pinckney was arrested for threatening his mother with a knife. She was granted an emergency Protection from Abuse Order, but she did not appear at a hearing for a permanent order.

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