Mentally ill man killed by Huntsville police was suing sheriff's office

Updated: Sep. 21, 2017 at 6:49 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The man killed by a Huntsville police officer Wednesday night had filed a lawsuit against the Madison County Sheriff's Office on Aug. 14.

READ MORE: 3 shot, 2 dead in NW Huntsville; suspect killed by police

31-year-old Haraesheo Rice was fatally shot after officers say he pointed a gun at them Wednesday night. They were responding to a shooting call near Creighton Avenue and Green Meadow Road. After the shooting, police found another body at the scene, who Rice is suspected of killing. That victim was identified as 47-year-old Keith Ricks.

Rice, who suffered from mental illness, was suing the sheriff's office over an alleged jail beating in 2015. Rice alleged that corrections officers tied him down, beat him and choked him while he was in custody.

READ MORE: Former inmate sues Madison Co. Sheriff's Office over alleged jail beating

The lawsuit also claims Rice did not get proper medical attention for his mental illness and that water was spilling into his cell from a broken sprinkler.

According to federal documents, officers determined he needed to be taken from his cell because he was in distress.

The officers are accused of dressing in full combat gear with weapons and shields, then beating Rice until he lost consciousness.

READ MORE: Investigation launched into Metro Jail inmate's injuries

Rice's attorney, Bruce Gardner, said he's sad to hear the news of his client's death but wasn't surprised that he had an unfortunate incident with police.

Gardner described Rice as someone who had mental illness, an explosive personality and struggled with a dangerous combination of street drugs. Gardner worked a number of Rice's cases, which included assaulting officers. He said, however, the cases concluded in circuit court, putting him back on electronic monitoring. Rice was ordered to get help by everyone in the justice system.

"We all knew he was mentally ill and needed treatment. The problem was that Haraesheo did not comply and that probably wound up costing him his life," Gardner said.

Gardner added that he thought Rice needed long-term, individual psychotherapy and medication.

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