Family of man shot and killed by Huntsville police still searching for answers, and mental health awareness

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- It's been nearly two weeks since Huntsville police say they were forced to shoot and kill 31-year-old Haraesheo Rice.

Police responded to a shooting on September 20 near Creighton Avenue.  When they arrived, officers say they discovered one person had been shot in the hand and the suspect, Haraesheo Rice, was located nearby, still armed. HPD says officers told Rice to drop the gun, but instead he pointed it at officers and waved it in the air. Officers said they were forced to fire at Rice, killing him.

In the aftermath of the shooting, investigators discovered that a second person had been shot and killed at the scene.

Rice's family said that he struggled with mental health issues for years, but still believe the incident could have been handled differently.

His mother, Terry Rice, said she's having a hard time getting information involving her son's death, and she wants answers. "After my son's murder, no one has contacted me. Actually, I've done all the reaching out. I want to see the dash cams. I want to see the video. I want to see the footage."

Terry Rice said she has been in touch with the investigator on her son's case, but authorities told her that in order to get the dash cam video she wants, she has to go through her attorney.

WHNT News 19 reached out to the Huntsville Police Department, and they confirmed she was directed to file a formal request with the city's legal department. A Huntsville police spokesman explained that all requests for body and dash camera footage must go through that department.

Authorities said they are trying to work with the family by directing them through the processes that are required, in order to get the information they are requesting.

WHNT News 19 also reached out to a City of Huntsville Attorney, Trey Riley, who said he is not aware of any formal request being made through the legal office at this time. He explained that those type of requests can be made by the surviving family of the deceased, or through their designated attorney.

Huntsville police said that their findings will be released in the near future, but the shooting is still under investigation.

Rice's friends and family want their voices to be heard and are using this time to protest for justice and mental health care reform.

The response from the community just confirms that when it comes to mental health issues, people are ready to listen.

"The community got excited, simply because of something that's being done," explained the pastor of Hope Community Church, Charles Rodgers. "You know we do a lot of talking, but when you start walking - it can make a difference."

Throughout the rest of this week, protesters will gather at 2 p.m. at the Hope Community Church before taking to the streets in search of justice.

"We hope it starts a conversation," said Pastor Rodgers. "But beyond starting a conversation, ultimately we hope there's some legislative changes."

As for what the protests can do here in Huntsville? Pastor Rodgers hopes the conversation they start can, "stop criminalizing mental health conditions, and begin to develop programs to help the mentally ill, other than the jail."

He encourages everyone to come out and join them. "You know, let's not look at this as something that is controversial. We're not here to fight anybody. We're here to actually lift this area, and it's an important area to lift."