GLEN BURNIE — The mother of an unarmed man fatally shot in Maryland last year is suing the Air Force sergeant who killed her son in a racially charged case that set off rallies demanding justice.
Matthew Pinkerton, who is white, fatally shot Kendall Green, who is black, last September. Court records say Green, of Glen Burnie, had previously dated Pinkerton’s wife and had showed up drunk at the couple’s Glen Burnie home.
Witnesses said Green, 25, tried to force his way inside the home after Pinkerton used a racial slur, and that’s when Pinkerton shot Green twice in the chest, The Capital reported.
Immediately after the shooting, the 34-year-old Pinkerton told a 911 operator that he didn’t know if Green was armed. No weapons were found on Green’s person.
A judge in Anne Arundel County acquitted Pinkerton in the middle of his jury trial in June.
Green’s mother filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Pinkerton in Prince George’s County Court on Oct. 22. It alleges negligence and battery, and seeks $6 million in damages.
Attorney Charles Byrd Jr., who represents Green’s mother, compared Green’s death to the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri; a grand jury declined to charge the officer in that case.
“Although Mr. Pinkerton is not a police officer, it’s somewhat similar in the ideology of certain white men with guns and how they just don’t respect black life,” Byrd said. “They’re willing to pull the trigger and shoot someone to death, and then try to make up something to justify the shooting.”
Pinkerton’s attorney, Peter O’Neill, said the lawsuit was unfortunate and pointed to the judge’s decision to acquit his client.
“I think the case has been fully investigated and litigated,” O’Neill said. “It was clear from the trial that Matthew Pinkerton acted consistent with Maryland law to defend himself and his property.”
O’Neill said the shooting was “a very traumatic event” for his client.
“He wishes the family well and feels very badly about the way the situation happened,” he said. “But the court felt there was nothing he could have done to avoid the situation.”
Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge William Mulford’s decision to acquit Pinkerton set off a series of rallies in Annapolis. Demonstrators said the jury should have determined the outcome, not the judge. They also protested Mulford’s decision during trial not to allow jurors to hear the racial slur Pinkerton was accused of saying just before the shooting.
“You have no idea the anger the people still have regarding that case,” said Carl Snowden, a member of the county’s Caucus of African-American Leaders.
Civil rights leaders, a handful of politicians and Green’s family have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether the shooting was a hate crime.
Snowden said they hope to hear this week whether the department will launch a criminal investigation.
For now, Snowden said he hopes Pinkerton’s alleged use of a racial slur will be presented at a civil trial stemming from the lawsuit filed by Green’s mother.
“This civil suit guarantees there will be a trial, and that’s all people want,” Snowden said.