Family of restrained hospital patient speaks out on community wide issues with mental illness care

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ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – A hospital patient died less than a week after Athens Police tased him in the Athens-Limestone Hospital and Saturday the man's family spoke publicly for the first time about the incident.

Randy Nelson's loved ones say they are using this tragedy as a way to reach out to the community.

“He just told me he going to have to do this," recalled Randy’s mother, Dorothy Nelson. "I heard something pop and I left then. I didn't want to see any more."

Medical staff called Athens Police to help deal with an out of control patient on February 3. Randy was wheeled into Athens-Limestone Hospital while having a mental crisis. Athens police recently released body camera footage of the incident. The video shows officers trying to calmly settle the situation. Eventually they went on to use a Taser on Randy. He was taken to Huntsville Hospital where he died on February 8.

"His bizarre behavior alarmed them and caused them to turn what was a medical issue into a police matter, for which there was no possible positive outcome," said the family's attorney John Taylor.

According to the Nelson family, Randy suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for 24 years. Now, the family wants to send a clear and strong message about mental illness.

"He was a psychotic person who nobody ever gave an ounce of medication to which could have calmed the situation down. People are in crisis and there is no help for them," said Taylor.

The Nelson family wants to reach out to the Limestone community to hear testimonies from other families dealing with mental illness.

"Try to get help for parents that deal with this. It's a hard thing to deal with," said Dorothy.

They hope to create guidelines for law enforcement, hospital staff and the community on ways to handle these difficult situations.

"We are at risk with a community that has no idea what to do with mental illness," said Taylor.

The family's attorney says the Nelsons are not pressing any charges at this time, but instead grieving and working with the community. He says they have plenty of time for legal action at a later date, if they want to seek it.