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Clint Peterson Was Killed by Police While Running Away

There still are a few reminders left of Clint Peterson on Kelly Court, the quiet, leafy street in Duncanville where he was shot to death.

A neighbor's white pickup that Peterson once repaired is parked in a driveway. Across the street is the home of an elderly couple whose lawn he mowed for extra cash. A small bouquet of flowers sits outside another house in the middle of the block, where the three women who witnessed Peterson's brief, fatal encounter with police all live.

A few houses down, there is a more gruesome trace of Peterson — faint bloodstains on the concrete driveway where he collapsed after being shot.

Shyanna Gallegos lives at the house with the bouquet out in front. She says she woke up early the morning of October 28 to the sound of Melissa Peterson, one of her housemates, yelling at her brother Clint in the driveway, telling him to go home.

Gallegos' mom, Debra, the third witness, and Clint Peterson had dated on and off. But lately he was no longer welcome at the house. He was depressed and drank often. He stayed with a family friend not far away, who says Peterson planned to go to rehab later that day.

The police reports describe the scene before the shooting as a "major disturbance," but Peterson's sister and girlfriend dispute that account. They say they simply wanted him to leave. He often came over uninvited. And that morning, Peterson, a talented mechanic, had messed with some switches on Gallegos' car, so that the lights wouldn't work until he came back later to fix it. "He made me mad about the car, which now I look at it, it wasn't that big of a deal," Debra Gallegos says.

After the yelling woke her up, Shyanna Gallegos ran downstairs. "I told Melissa, 'Just shut up, go inside, leave Clint alone, I'll go out and talk to him," she says. The younger Gallegos considered Peterson a best friend and says she tried to mediate the fights he'd get into with her housemates. He seemed calm to her. He told her he found a job and promised he'd leave if he could get a cigarette. "The thing I don't understand is why there was even an argument to begin with, because when I came outside to talk to Clint, he had no problem talking to me and telling me what was going on," she says.

She told him to wait a minute and she'd bring him a smoke. Inside the house, her mother was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, telling them about the car. Shyanna Gallegos says she told her mother to give the dispatcher a warning: Peterson might be carrying a fake gun that easily could be mistaken for a real one. Or, at least he had been carrying one a few days prior. The women insist it was just a toy. Still, they feared it could cause trouble if a police officer saw it and thought it was real.

"We weren't sure the state of mind that Clint was in," Shyanna Gallegos says. "We wanted the officers to know that he might have a fake gun on him, that it is fake, for sure," and that "he would be more likely to be suicidal than to hurt anybody."

The three women say that Peterson was already walking away from their house as two Duncanville Police Department officers drove toward him and parked next to the curb. Within a minute, they say, he was dead.

The eyewitnesses say that the police officers, unprovoked, cornered Peterson and shot a Taser gun at him as he backed away with his hands in his pockets. They say that prompted Peterson to turn his back and run, but that he barely made it around a tree before an officer fired two bullets at him from point-blank range. Neighbors heard two gunshots. The three women believe it was the second bullet that struck Peterson, hitting him in the back of the head and killing him.

"If they lunged two steps, they could have tackled him, or used their Taser," says Melissa Peterson. "He didn't pull nothing, they didn't tell him nothing, they didn't tell him to stop, they didn't tell him to put his hands up."

If what the women say is true, it would be an outrageous story and difficult to believe. Yet so far, the police haven't released any information providing any other narrative.

Documents from the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office say Peterson, formally known as Clinton, died of a gunshot wound to the head, a homicide. He was 28 years old. The Duncanville Police Department has declined to release a police report to the family or the public that would explain how the killing occurred, saying they aren't obligated to release information because the case remains under investigation.

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Amy Martyn
Contact: Amy Martyn