MESQUITE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The family of Ashton Pinke huddled together Tuesday, May 4, comforting a relative who’d collapsed with loud sobs outside the Audobon Park Apartments in Mesquite.
News of his death following an encounter with police was spreading quickly.READ MORE: Your Company Can Require You To Get Vaccinated With Few Exceptions, Even In Texas, Employment Lawyer Says
“There was a lady screaming and there was a guy laying on the ground and the paramedics looked like they were trying to resuscitate him,” recalled Rico Bell, a neighbor who witnessed the immediate aftermath of the shooting. One neighbor captured video of the loud, repeated screams uttered by Pinke’s girlfriend.
Several neighbors reported hearing the gunshots and seeing Pinke, who was living at the complex with his girlfriend and their young daughter, on a paved path where hours later his clothes still lay. Nearby was what they described as a cane or stick he often carried while walking.
“I don’t know if he lunged at him. From my understanding, he walked around the corner and the officer was saying, ‘Don’t do it’,” said Ty Hardaway, another neighbor.
Relatives say Pinke struggled with his mental health.
An uncle said he’d been diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia and took medication to help control the condition.
Early Tuesday morning, his girlfriend placed calls to Pinke’s mother and to 911.
His family says, she was seeking help for him.
“In the background, we could hear screaming and it sounded like somebody being assaulted,” said Sgt. Mark Bradford, a spokesperson for the Mesquite Police Department.
Police say the call they received disconnected, but dispatchers were able to identify the number as one with a history of dialing 911.READ MORE: Allen West Says Border Security, Replacing Property Tax Are His Top Priorities In 2022 Primary Challenge To Gov. Abbott
They connected to an address where police have previously responded. When two veteran officers of the department arrived, they encountered Pinke.
“The suspect charged at officers armed with a knife and a club,” read a press release from police.
Both officers fired their guns, striking Pinke who was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
“According to witnesses at the scene, this should have been a mental health welfare check,” wrote Justin Moore, an attorney representing the family.
Activists at the scene questioned the use of deadly force, but it’s unclear whether either officer had access to a taser.
“It’s the officers’ option whether to carry one. I don’t know if these officers chose to carry a taser or not,” said Sgt. Bradford, at a short news conference.
Ukiah Swain, who was listening in, was left frustrated.
“To hear him say that Mesquite police officers are given an option whether or not they wear a taser. So there could have been a non-lethal way to deal with this situation? This situation to my understanding of a man with a cane?,” she said.
Mesquite police have committed to releasing footage from body worn cameras that captured the shooting.MORE NEWS: Department Of Justice Sues Texas And Gov. Greg Abbott Over Executive Order Restricting Travel Of Undocumented Migrants
Pinke’s family says he was a father of four children.