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Prosecutors describe violent chain of events in deadly methadone clinic shootout

A manifesto was found on the suspect
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Posted at 3:22 PM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 15:26:43-05

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — City prosecutors on Monday released an in depth review describing the bloody chain of events of a deadly police involved shootout last year at a North Baltimore methadone clinic.

The report also offered a glimpse into the mind of the suspect, who shot an officer, killed an employee, and held others hostage.

It all happened July 15, when Sergeant Bill Shiflett and officer Christopher Miller were dispatched to a possible active shooter call at the Man Alive Addiction Treatment Center on Maryland Avenue.

On scene, both were told someone was inside shooting a gun.

RELATED: Sergeant shot, suspect dead in shooting at methadone clinic

According to the report put together by prosecutors, 49-year-old Ashanti Pinkney entered the clinic around 7 a.m.

Video evidence "unambiguously" showed Pinkney skip the normal signing-in process and pull out a gun, as he walked all the way to the back of the clinic, by the urinalysis/laboratory desk where 52-year-old phlebotomist David Caldwell was working.

Prosecutors wrote that Pinkney shot Caldwell in the chest, and again in the back as he fell to the ground.

After hearing the commotion, a manager at the clinic came out to see what was going on.

Pinkney then held her at gunpoint, demanding that she use her security card to let him into the secured pharmaceutical area of the clinic.

In an interview with prosecutors, the manager said she told Pinkney she would only let him in, if he let three of her workers escape.

Pinkney agreed, and let them leave unharmed.

Meanwhile, another employee locked themselves in the bathroom of the secured area.

Pinkney then confronted another clinic employee and ordered her to give him a bottle of Methadone, for which she complied.

A private security guard entered the area and was able to talk Pinkney into putting his gun down on a chair.

But when police arrived, Pinkney again picked up the gun.

READ MORE: Body camera footage released from methadone clinic shooting

As Shiflett and Miller entered the building, they could see Pinkney through security windows and ordered him to drop the gun.

At this point, Pinkney had become trapped at the end of the hallway between secured doors, with nowhere else to go. Behind one of those doors was the employee who had locked themselves in the bathroom.

About 18-seconds after the officers began approaching, Pinkney reached out from behind the wall and fired the first shot, but missed. Shiflett shot back through the walls, at which point Pinkney was heard screaming an expletive likely in response to being shot. Just four seconds after Shiflett stopped shooting, Pinkney jumped out from behind the wall, and shot him in the abdomen. After he'd been shot, Shiflett returned fire, unloading an entire magazine. Miller also fired one shot. In the end, Pinkney had been struck a total of 15-times throughout the body.

After pulling Shiflett to safety and out of harms way, Miller and other officers went back into the clinic to try and tend to Pinkney.

It was then Miller noticed an employee had been hiding in the bathroom, and had chest and facial injuries from shrapnel.

Officers then discovered Caldwell who died on scene.

Pinkney was taken to the hospital where he also died. On him was a “manifesto” that according to the States Attorney's Office read, in part, “…I am independent now…” “…I’ve been poisoned…” “…Miseducation, Mass Incarceration, gentrification, access to wealth, police state genocide…” and, “…has to change, I expect the demons to show, no slave left behind, repair us and America will thrive…”

Prosecutors say the “manifesto” had several spelling errors, which were corrected for investigative purposes.

At least 16 witnesses provided statements to prosecutors.

One, an employee in the dispensary area quoted Pinkney as saying “I’m not gonna hurt ya, I just want the Methadone, I’m gonna drink the bottle, gonna kill myself.” The witness also remembered Pinkney talking about “racial stuff”, like “reparations.”

Shiflett was hospitalized for nearly a week and underwent multiple surgeries. He remains on light duty.

Prosecutors concluded the review by declining to criminally charge the officers involved.

"Given that the [body worn camera] video and inside video shows: (1) the Involved Citizen was armed with a gun (2) the Involved Citizen while in the treatment center killed an employee, (3) the Involved Citizen continue to threaten employees with the gun, and (4) the Involved Citizen fired a shot at the two officers and refused to surrender, it would be objectively reasonable for the officers to conclude that their safety and the safety of the employees and patients at the treatment center was at risk, leading them to protect themselves and the people in the treatment center by utilizing force. The decision to use force was justified under the Maryland law of self-defense and the standard put forth by the Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor. The officers actions in this case did not rise to a level of criminal culpability. Therefore, the State declines to prosecute the officers."

The entire report can be read below.

Methadone clinic shooting by Wmar Web on Scribd