A man shot by officers with a U.S. Marshals task force in September said he feels the officers who shot him used excessive force, leaving him with damaged nerves in his arm.
Kevin Gellnes, 42, has spent most of his life in the criminal justice system. Since becoming homeless at 14, then using methamphetamines as a teen, Gellnes has been in and out of jail on various charges, including a felony conviction as a juvenile.
When Gellnes got out of prison for the first time as an adult, he had nowhere to go.
“They kick you out of prison with 40 dollars and a bus ticket – that’s it,” he said. “You’re on your own after that.”
Despite finishing his GED, being medicated for anxiety, depression and schizoaffective bipolar disorder, and getting sober in jail, Gellness said he couldn’t get a job.
“No one wants to hire a felon, so it’s all bad,” Gellnes said.
The system continued to treat him “like I’m a piece of crap,” he said. “I was screwed at the age of 14. I had no home.”
After years of battling addiction and mental health issues, Gellnes had another major run-in with the law this fall. Not only was the U.S. Marshals Services’ local fugitive task force looking for Gellnes due to an outstanding warrant, but he was also the main suspect in a drug-related shooting in Spokane in September.
Gellnes declined to comment on the drug-related shooting on the advice of his attorney. He is currently in Spokane County Jail on charges of first-degree armed burglary, attempted murder, unlawful possession of a firearm, and assault with a deadly weapon. The charges stem from both the drug-related shooting and the incident with the U.S. Marshals.
Gellnes said on the day of the shooting his “homegirl” wanted to say “Hi,” so he left the place where he was staying in Hillyard and walked up the street to meet her.
Then someone yelled “Freeze!”
Gellnes admits he was using meth and was off his medication for schizoaffective bipolar disorder. He turned around and grabbed the gun he was carrying; he claimed it was an attempt to toss it away.
“I hear voices that aren’t there and see things that aren’t there,” he said. “In my mind, it made sense to throw the gun and run.”
That’s when Gellnes said he heard a series of loud pops. He was shot five times by one officer, with a sixth shot missing, he said.
Gellnes recalls falling to the ground and repeatedly saying his fiancée’s name, telling bystanders to tell her he loves her and repeating her phone number.
“That was the last thing on my mind – to tell her I love her before I die,” Gellnes said.
The U.S. Marshals Service does not release the names of officers involved in shooting incidents, said Dave Oney with the U.S. Marshals’ office of public affairs. The fugitive task force is made up of officers.
The Spokane Police Department investigated the shooting and has forwarded their findings to the Spokane County Prosecutor, said Sgt. Terry Preuninger with the Spokane Police Department.
The number of officers who fired their weapons and number of shots fired have not been released by either agency.
Gellnes was taken to a local hospital and underwent surgery to remove one bullet from his lung area, he said.
After a few weeks in the hospital, Gellnes was taken to jail, where he said he hasn’t received physical therapy for his arm.
“With nerve damage, I feel pain 24/7 in my arm,” Gellnes said.
He said he has gotten back on his schizoaffective bipolar medication and is feeling clearheaded. The drugs and lack of mental health medication affected Gellnes’ action “big time,” he said.
But he still feels the officers used too much force.
“It’s excessive,” Gellnes said. “They shot me five times.”
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