Demonstrators say they want justice for man Huntsville Police shot and killed

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A group of demonstrators came to the corner of University Drive and Pulaski Pike Monday afternoon to protest against police brutality and seek justice for Haraesheo Rice.

Rice was involved in an altercation with police last month near Green Meadow Road in Huntsville.

Police believe he shot and killed someone, and waved his gun at officers the night of September 20, 2017. That's when officers fired and killed him, according to investigators.

Our earlier reporting revealed Rice had a criminal history and also a history of mental illness.

Rice's mother said she believes the incident could have been handled differently. Now, she wants answers from police.

"I just want answers. After my son's murder, no one has contacted me," she told WHNT News 19. "Actually, I've been the one reaching out. I want to see the video. I want to see the dash cam. I want to see the footage."

Demonstration for Haraesheo Rice on October 2, 2017
Photo: Kristen Conner/WHNT News 19

Demonstrators chanted, "No justice, no peace!" and "Release the what? Tapes!" calling for police to  be transparent about what happened.

Rice said she has not been able to have access to her son's property. She said police released his car, but she wants his other personal belongings too.

She said from the looks of the car, her son was shot inside of it.

"There is blood spatter all over the driver's door, on the passenger side, in the backseat. It was as if he was trying to leave, with blood all in his keys," she said.

Ms. Rice said she spoke with her son the morning before it happened.

"He was doing fine," she said.

Demonstrators wore shirts that read, "Mental Health Matters" behind her as we spoke.

As for the demonstration, Rice said, "We just want our voices to be heard. Because mental health, it does matter. Dealing with him over 16 years, trying to get him help, and no one would help," she said.

Rice said her son was beaten in 2015 during his time in jail. There was a demonstration then on his behalf also. In August of 2017, Haraesheo Rice filed a federal lawsuit against Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning and six employees for the alleged beating in the Madison County jail in 2015.

He was released sometime in 2016, she said.

"He started going for help and he did get his prescription and all that," she said.

At Monday's demonstration for the Rice family, protestors asked drivers to honk in support and acknowledgement of mental health issues and what happened to him.

"It makes me feel good. It makes me feel good and I'd also like to see more people come out," said Terry Rice.

"It's such a tribute that the community would demonstrate their awareness of mental health this way," said one man. "It may look like we are fighting against the police or city government, but that's not the case. We are fighting against this inadequate funding of mental health that is really robbing so many people of an opportunity."

He added, "This tells me that we don't feel this way alone. That when they see us with T-shirts that say, 'Mental health matters,' and we want justice, they're saying 'Amen.'"

Huntsville Police say the encounter with Haraesheo Rice is still under investigation. The four officers placed on leave did return to work this week. HPD told WHNT News 19 the department "will be releasing findings in the near future, after the completion of the investigation and shooting review board."