When the Baltimore Police Department received calls for an armed person at the Man Alive clinic in North Baltimore last week, the ensuing shootout between a patient and two officers was captured on body worn camera video.
On Tuesday, the public got to see some of what the officers encountered that morning. The department released portions of Sgt. Bill Shiflett’s body worn camera footage, in which he and a second officer, Christopher Miller, exchange fire with Ashanti Pinkney, 49, after the man fired at the officers ? striking Shiflett.
Shiflett and Miller can be heard repeatedly trying to coax Pinkney to give up his gun just before the exchange that left Shiflett shot in the stomach and the gunman dead.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison praised the officers’ actions and said their efforts amounted to a “textbook active shooter response" in which they quickly assessed the situation and acted.
“I think they are to be commended on their bravery and their courage, recognizing what was at hand, recognizing what could happen and running towards it, rather than away from it,” Harrison said.
After Miller and Shiflett shot Pinkney, police found a second man, David Caldwell, 52, a phlebotomist, whom Pinkney had shot and killed before the officers entered the clinic, Harrison said. Another woman was injured from shrapnel.
Police said they did not have a clear motive as to what prompted Pinkney to go to the clinic with a gun.
“For whatever reason, this person becomes really volatile and violent. As you saw, our team worked really hard to de-escalate,” Harrison said.
Pinkney had been a patient there and had been allowed into building. He carried with him a handgun that was not registered to him, which remains part of the investigation, said Capt. Donald Diehl. He heads the department’s Special Investigation Response Team, which probes police-involved shootings.
Previously, several clinic patients described fleeing the building or sheltering in place after witnessing a man yelling for methadone and holding a gun to the head of an employee.
One woman recalled seeing a counselor trying to intervene.
The video portion released by the department opens with Shiflett jogging across the street toward the clinic.
“Do we have anybody injured?” Shiflett can be heard asking an officer outside the clinic. The officer responded, “not that we know of" adding that the gunman remained inside with patients and staff, including a security guard.
“Active shooter, “ Shiflett says, running toward the door. Miller walks inside first, but Shiflett, armed with a rifle, tells the officer, “Let me go first.”
Both officers have their guns drawn.
Inside the clinic, the officers see a man at the end of a hallway. He slowly walks towards them, saying the attacker is still inside.
“He’s got a gun," the man tells the officers.
The view of the camera is briefly blocked by what appears to be Shiflett’s arm as the officers first encounter Pinkney.
“Put the gun down” one officer says.
A security guard armed with a gun can be seen to the left of the officers, crouching inside a doorway while Pinkney is farther down the hall, barely visible around a corner.
“Don’t do it,” the woman says, pointing her gun down the hall as the officers move in.
“I’m just waiting for someone," Pinkney replies.
The officers continue to tell Pinkney to put the gun down. At one point, Shiflett says, “I will shoot you right here. Put the gun down.”
Then Pinkney raises his gun and fires toward the officers. An exchange of gunfire in which Shiflett and Pinkney are hit is redacted from the footage released to the public.
Harrison said the full video was not publicly released “out of respect for human life that was lost.”
Police spokesman Matt Jablow said the department did not release Miller’s body-worn camera video because it was similar and it showed graphic images of Shiflett after he was shot.
Members of the media were shown the entire exchange, including Shiflett and Pinkney being shot. Both officers return fire, and Pinkney can be seen dropping to the ground. Shiflett’s camera rotates as he falls, the view facing the ceiling of the clinic.
Shiflett can be heard saying, “I’m hit in the stomach” and Miller calls for help on his radio.
“Officer down, officer down” Miller says.
Miller then begins to drag Shiflett down the hallway, away from where Pinkney is lying.
Shiflett has since been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, Harrison said.
After the shooting, Harrison said, officers searched the clinic as part of protocol and found Caldwell, the phlebotomist, in another area of the clinic “not where this exchange took place."
Diehl said surveillance video from the clinic showed Pinkney in the hallways before encountering Caldwell in Caldwell’s office. Diehl said there was no methadone in that area. The shootout with officers was in the clinic dispensary area, he said.
Diehl said there wasn’t a camera inside Caldwell’s office, but that the interaction between the two men happened quickly.
Pinkney shot Caldwell, Harrison said, but police do not have a motive. Multiple people said Pinkney had been kicked out of the methadone clinic within the previous week, but Harrison said investigators were not aware of any ban.
Pinkney’s friend Mark Crandall previously told The Baltimore Sun the man had a wife and two children.
Tuffy Cardagena met his friend Pinkney every morning, and they would smoke a joint together and talk about life before beginning their day. He said he had no idea what caused Pinkney to become upset.
That day, “You could tell he wasn’t in his right state of mind,” Cardagena said.
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