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Family who sued over alleged Madison County Jail beating settles lawsuit with Sheriff, deputies

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. --  A lawsuit stemming from the alleged beating of a Madison County jail inmate in 2015 that spawned protests outside the jail, has been settled.

The named plaintiff in the case, Haraesheo Rice, was killed during an encounter with the Huntsville Police Department last year, after he allegedly killed one man and shot another.

The lawsuit alleges that Rice, who had numerous encounters with law enforcement, had mental health issues, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The lawsuit against Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning and nine sheriff’s office employees who worked at the jail, was settled for $32,000, sources told WHNT News 19. The county’s insurance company will write the check.

An attorney for the Rice family told WHNT News 19 on Friday the case had been resolved to the satisfaction of the parties involved.

The alleged beating of Rice took place in August 2015. The lawsuit claims Rice did not receive adequate care in the jail for his mental health problems. The sheriff’s office said Rice broke the sprinkler head in his cell and water was pouring into the cell.

The sheriff’s office said officers then performed an “extraction” of Rice from his cell.

But the lawsuit says officers battered Rice in the cell and then strapped him to a chair, beat him around the head and shoulders and choked him.

That led Rice’s family and others to protest outside the Madison County Jail. His mother, Terry Rice, told WHNT News 19 in 2015, she was having troubling getting information.

Some of the inmates called my family members to tell them that they see Haraesheo and his head is so big that it looks like it's about to burst,” she said. “His eyes are red, like the blood vessels are burst in them. But that's the only information I'm receiving and that's from inmates.”

Rice filed his lawsuit two years later, in August 2017.

Dorning’s attorneys argued the lawsuit didn’t spell out how he failed to train the jail officers properly. Attorneys for the jailers argued the claims weren’t specific enough to assign liability and they all contended the lawsuit was overly broad – a shotgun pleading.

But about five weeks later the Huntsville Police Department said Rice forced his way into a home on Green Meadow Drive, fatally shot one man and wounded another.

He was confronted by Huntsville Police Department officers. The Huntsville Police Department said Rice was fatally shot after refusing to put down his gun.

His family has questioned the department’s later findings that the officers involved in the shooting acted within policy.

Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray said HPD had numerous encounters with Rice.

“Haraesheo Rice had 246 documented HPD involvements. Those are times when we have run into him and every one of those were documented,” McMurray said. “246.”